Over the past month or so since we announced the roll out of the Bin Swap program across Tameside we have received a considerable amount of feedback from residents. Contrary to what you might hear most of our residents have been supportive. Some of them have genuine concerns which we will do our best to resolve, but some have concerns about the Bin Swap because they’ve been given a false idea of what it actually involves. Today I want to set the record straight by highlighting the five biggest myths about the Bin Swap I’ve heard on the streets, in the media and on the internet.
5 Myths about the Bin Swap
1. Bin Swap will increase fly-tipping or force people to go to the tip more.
Data we’ve recorded from the bin swap pilot has shown that overall capacity for the disposal of household waste is unchanged, with the amount of waste being presented at the kerbside remaining the same or going slightly up. This means that households are still disposing of the same amount of waste. It’s just in different bins now. The evidence tells us that most people are having no significant issues that have resulted in them having to use public bins, illegally fly-tip, or take their waste to the recycling centre.
2. Bin Swap will reduce the amount of waste we take away from people’s houses.
Bin swap does not reduce the total waste capacity of households. There is still 477 litres of bin space each week for waste disposal. The only difference is that residual waste capacity has been reduced by 40%, which has been balanced out by a corresponding increase in recycling capacity. Bin swap makes no changes to your collection day or your collection frequency.
3. Bin Swap will let us reduce council tax.
We are charged by the Greater Manchester Waste Authority for every tonne of waste we send to landfill. We predict that a successful roll out of the Bin Swap will reduce these costs by approximately £3 million out of the £12 million we currently pay. That might sound like a lot, but it utterly pales in comparison to the £104 million we’ve lost since 2010 and the £38 million we expect to lose in the next two years from government cuts. The money we save from Bin Swap, along with the money we save from anywhere else, will be used to keep the lights on in our most vital services. It might not be a popular thing to say, but that’s the truth.
4. Bin Swap roll out wasn’t discussed with residents.
The Tameside Labour manifesto for the 2015 local elections stated that a full roll out of the Bin Swap would form one of our key election pledges. We have been working with residents and businesses to inform them about the Bin Swap and make sure that the roll out goes as smoothly as possible.
We asked for people’s opinions about it in our online budget consultation last year, we launched a pilot programme in four areas in borough, and then used these to conduct a robust evaluation. As part of this we sent officers to the pilot areas so we could listen to and learn from the experiences of people on the ground. 711 survey forms were completed, a total of 17% of the number of households in the area. That’s a number we can stand by when national polling companies routinely claim to speak for the country when they consult a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population. We also make sure that the households we surveyed were of a variety of sizes, from single person studios to 6+ person families. The information we gathered allowed us to see what was going well and where we needed to put more support in place.
We’ve also been promoting the Bin Swap through all the council’s social media channels and our on-going Bin Swap roadshows. We’re putting on 88 roadshows over a period of 4 weeks in markets and shops across Tameside, so there’s sure to be one somewhere near you. From Day One we have been clear and open about our ambitions for the Bin Swap, and we have consulted with business and residents every step of the way.
5. Bin Swap offers no help or support for large families.
Our surveys in the Bin Swap pilot areas showed us that people had concerns about how larger households would cope. On the back of this feedback we have introduced an exceptional circumstances policy. Households of 6+ people and households with specific medical or sanitary requirements will receive an additional landfill container free of charge for as long as they need it. We also invite households who do not fall under the exceptional circumstances policy to contact us if they feel that they are having difficulties. We will be only too happy to discuss their situation and help them with their recycling needs.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Rolling out the Bin Swap is not a decision that I or anybody else in the council has taken lightly, but in the context of massive cuts to vital services and the need to do our bit for environment we need to find ways of doing more with less. Bin Swap is also a cheaper and easier option than many of the alternatives used by our neighbours such as have going to 3-weekly collections, or spending almost £3 million buying new, smaller bins. Most people I’ve talked to have understood that it is the right and necessary thing to do, I hope those who disagree will join them in giving the Bin Swap a fair chance.