I do refuse

For a week or so now, new recycling guidance leaflets have been delivered to residents of Walsall Borough by the council. There has been a degree of justified concern expressed that the authority appear to have limited the range of material one can now recycle – particularly plastics.

After a week of largely ignoring our enquiries on Twitter (Walsall seems not to be too bothered about it’s once revolutionary Twitter presence now they’ve got the shiny awards), the authority finally answered today. It seems the range of stuff that can be recycled is wider than the leaflet suggests.

Pelsall blogger and top journalist Jayne Howarth has rounded all the information, including the councils reply in an article posted on her site, Common People. Rather than rehash it here, I thought it best just to link to Jayne’s post.

You can take a look at the new leaflet by clicking here (hosted at Common People).

For comparison, top Walsall geek and data genius behind the automation of The YamYam, Paul Daniel, found a leaflet issued in 2009 which can be viewed by clicking here.

It’s nice to see Pelsall Councillor Marco Longhi is also taking a positive, pro-active stance.

It seems clear from the discussion that the recycling service is being troubled by some misuse, with non-recyclables and contaminated refuse being thrown in with the good stuff, and to a certain extent I can see the problem. However, it is beyond the scope of many residents to differentiate types and grades of plastic, so issuing even more finicky guidelines seems to be a mistake to me. All it will do is scare those who use the service conscientiously, more than likely into sending recyclable material to landfill, whilst those abusing it won’t bother with the leaflet anyway.

This leaflet – I’m still to receive one, but Brownhills is often last – is a spectacular mis-fire, as is the complete neglect of enquiries to the council about it (and other issues) via social media this week. This isn’t boding well for the future of the recycling system or the council on social media – both were formerly great services that seem to be becoming somewhat pared back.

I hope this isn’t a portent.

Common People: Essential reading for lovers of the slightly posh village over the swag. Click on the screenshot to visit the article.

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19 Responses to I do refuse

  1. stymaster says:

    This isn’t good. The refuse and recycling service is one area where, for a change, Walsall MBC can be very proud if what it does: It means that my grey/black normal bin is usually less than half-full, and lots of my household waste gets recycled. If I were to follow the leaflet (rather than what @walsallcouncil tweeted) that would be reduced. Conflicting, confusing, inconsistent and wrong advice. It’s so dissapointing, especially as I was remarking last week that our service is probably the best I have seen, after staying in Norfolk where they don’t accept glass in household collections [*shrug*].

    If foil is OK, so long as it’s clean, then why not say so? What about plastic takeaway containers?

    Why tweet a load of information and not include it on the web page?

    Furthermore, if there’s a problem with contamination, fix that problem directly, not tangentially. If some plastics are unsuitable, say so. If containers must be clean, say so. Then those of us that use the service responsibly will continue to do so, continue to recycle as much as possible, and save on landfill.

    It’s not the first time they’ve been unclear.

    • ianrobo says:

      echo the comments on the service, compared to my near neighbour of Brum it is top class and the likes of Sandwell, Dudley followed Walsall’s example.

  2. Bob,

    Mrs C and I have been using our Green bin since we were first given one, and often find it’s brimming full when our “landfill” bin is only halfway there. We love the fact you can stick recyclable plastics in because I had previously been taking a bin liner down to Merchants Way on a fortnightly basis and trying to fit it all through holes designed clearly only to take two litre pop bottles. That, along with the paper, card, etc which we used to recycle even before there were bins for it.

    Were I to have my way, we’d have weekly recyclable collections and fortnightly of “other” waste.

    This communication scores highly on the “changing all the days we have our bins done” scale of irrelevance to reality.

    I suspect the service in Walsall isn’t about to be rolled back or even slashed to ribbons, but I think I detect a generous number of chefs with their ladles in the broth of managing it.

    Perhaps a little less seasoning and a bit more service? Garçon!

    • Peter says:

      What bin do you put the Mead bottles in then?

      • They go in a bowl of sterilising fluid, and are refilled. Only the corks are disposed of… in the brown bin, because they are biodegradable plant matter.
        The mead is recycled too, into midnight trips to the bathroom and early morning headaches. 🙂

  3. Dan Slee says:

    Quick note from holiday.

    Can’t help with the recycling issues but I’ll flag them (disclaimer: I’m a press officer at Walsall Council when I’m at work.)

    Thanks for the feedback on our Twitter. We are looking at how we can better embed Walsall Council’s Twitter so it can better respond to people swiftly, concisely and in the channel of their choice.

    We’ll never be the BBC who monitor and respond around the clock but there are a few things we’re working on so we can rely on more than just the goodwill of a few staff.

    • Hi Dan

      Thanks for replying whist on holiday. Appreciated.

      Firstly, this isn’t personal. I understand policy isn’t in your control and that this may well be the result of external factors beyond control of the comms unit.

      In recent months, any kind of communication on Twitter or Facebook with the council has been mostly pointless. It takes days to get a reply – if your enquiry is noticed at all – and it’s noticeable that events like the excellent ‘Who Cares’ aren’t promoted as much as they used to be on the medium (Who Cares? only really had one day on Twitter, which was very sad. The blog and other stuff aren’t getting nearly enough attention).

      What was a revolutionary and fast way of supplying feedback and getting quick, simple answers seems to have become just another means of getting your enquiry brushed off.

      A week to answer requests about recycling is very poor.

      Nobody is expecting instant, BBC like responses. Formerly, it was great. Now, the civic shine seems to have dulled and it seems like a passing fad.

      The service was really useful and was one area where Walsall was exemplary. You can’t say that now, and it makes me sad.



    • I think that twitter enquiries should receive the same credence and level of response as a letter, email or phone call. It may take a while for council employees to feel confident using social media. I for one think that it’s very forward-thinking of Walsall council to embrace twitter, Facebook and the like. With social media evangelists like Dan in the picture, there may be hope for us yet…

      • I agree. You personally remain a beacon (as well as often up the beacon…) but the response of the @WalsallCouncil account has slipped way behind in the last few months. Dammit, it used to be so good. It’s almost like someone in charge lost interest.
        I think it’s a great way of reaching out to groups that don’t normally connect with the authority, and in your case, a great way to show that Walsall isn’t all pollution, derelict buildings and roads.



        • ianrobo says:

          maybe in purdah the output has to be restricted somewhat or was it before then ?

          • Fair comment. I feel like I can hardly speak during purdah as two of my sites are owned by trusts, the members of which are often local councillors. You feel that during purdah you are walking on eggshells a bit, trying not to seem to show favouritism, when what you’re actually trying to do is promote the countryside.

  4. ianrobo says:

    We have received nothing over here and would only know if anything was afoot on twitter

  5. Not just Brownhills. We here in Aldridge haven’t received the leaflet either but as I’ve now read it on line am I allowed to put it in the recycling bin when I get it? 😉

  6. ianrobo says:

    Of course there is no real way of policing this is there ?

    What we going to have, inspect every bin from top to bottom.

    at work we now have recycle waste bins and basically everything other than obvious no’s are allowed. I know it goes on the company who does the recycling but surely most is sorted out at the sorting stage ?

  7. Peter says:

    Just received said leaflet this morning, WS9.

    I’m a little unclear here, which bin do I put it in? Green or Grey?

  8. stymaster says:

    I notice there was a story in last night’s E+S stating that councillors have been inundated with queries. I’m not surprised: the leaflet specifically doesn’t mention several items that could be recycled according to the old leaflet, and also according to tweets from Walsall Council. Further to this there’s a quote from Steve Sharma saying that they’re “happy to speak to residents and clarifywhat can and cannot be recycled”.

    Why not just issue clear advice in the first place?

  9. Pingback: Rubbish service? « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  10. Luka Jordan says:

    Thank you for this info I live in Aldridge and was concerned about items not allowed for the recycling bin, now I can recycle with peace of mind … Happy new Year to everyone :o)

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