Getting the Sack

The standard wheelie bins the Council provides to residents in Bristol have been deemed unsightly if left on the street, and not everyone was using them. So the Council are trialling an alternative that is less useful than a wheelie bin and unsightly. If it fails to resolve the issue then they intend to adopt an even less useful and even more unsightly alternative. I am feeling slightly like a less athletic Robert De Niro.

A few weeks ago my area began participating in a test of seagull proof rubbish containers: these are about the same size as a rubbish bin, woven from strong plastic, and have a Velcro closure. They are designed to prevent animals from tearing up rubbish bags before the dustbin men arrive; as we do have foxes, dogs, and other animals visiting the street and not everyone was using a bin to hold their rubbish I support this attempt. To ensure full use they took away the bins of those people who had obtained a wheelie bin from the council and decreed that personal bins would not be emptied.

Unfortunately there are a number of issues, both mechanical and social with the bags.

  • The Velcro is mounted vertically, permitting a part filled bag to be closed. However it also results in the edges being unsecured, so the bag sags open providing a foot or so square opening onto the sacks within. So great care is needed to prevent the bag offering no benefit against curious animals.
  • A full bag is too heavy to carry very far, so people who live in basement flats have great difficulty moving them to the edge of the street. Also, dustbin men cannot efficiently move them between parked cars, so are transferring the bags from the container to a council wheelie bin to move rubbish bags to the bin lorry.
  • An empty bag is a very light tube with one end almost sealed; I might even use the simile of windsock to describe it. Unless hooked or otherwise secured they will move in strong winds; depending on the prevailing wind, either toward a main road or toward another main road.

Therefore, most people have left them attached to the railings outside their house and bringing the rubbish to them. I had though this to be the extent of the absurdity; matters to be addressed when the trial entered its feedback and assessment phases.

However I received a letter demanding that all residents store the container out of sight as it was unsightly, and if there was not full compliance the test would be ended and the containers removed.

I immediately perceived two issues(one of which I suspect has occurred to you already) that make compliance unlikely:

  • The containers are filled with rubbish bags, and sit on the pavement until collected. Even if none of the rubbish sacks within leak or are damaged, the containers are not going to be clean and unobjectionably scented for very long, so storing them just inside the front door is not ideal.
  • There are no front gardens. Most houses have been converted to flats so lack access to a back garden, and of those that still have one most do not have a rear gate. So storing it in the garden and carrying it through the house is not an option even if you are strong enough.

My personal belief is that you should comply with the law while trying to change it, so I am devoting more effort to keeping our container fully out of sight save when it is awaiting emptying. To date there is no sign others will alter their behaviour, so I suspect the trial will fail by their measure.

They have already determined wheelie bins are unsuitable, so they will not be provided if the current containers are removed. This leaves a return to using unprotected rubbish bags or a personal rubbish bin: at best, a melange of random containers; at worst the slime covered tatters of other people’s past flowing along the pavement with the wind.

By keeping my mind on the absurdity of their choices I hope when the detritus is swept away I am still here.

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2 thoughts on “Getting the Sack

    1. Thank you. I was aiming for Brazil, but Seinfeld is safer so I will take that.

      I have been using the bag for two weeks today and the bottom was full of gravel and shreds of a plastic bag when I brought it back in. So it appears my theory they would not stay clean for long is playing out.

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