The Daily Mail, I’m told, is the one of the biggest selling daily newspapers in High Wycombe. Strange then that they would want to antagonise the locals with their ill-judged piece calling us ‘the town where only the rats are happy‘. Reading the article, you might be forgiven for thinking that High Wycombe has become a cesspit of filth and vermin. But in true Daily Mail style, the truth has been distorted to produce a hysterical headline that will ensure that the blue-rinse brigade go scurrying to the polls next week to vote Tory. Err, except Wycombe is a Tory council already!
Now let’s just set out some facts behind this case. Wycombe District Council have been rolling out a two-bin system with alternate fortnightly collections. As it stands, not every home in Wycombe yet has the new system. If you do, as I do, then you have a green bin for compostable material (including food waste, garden waste and soiled newspaper) and a grey bin for non-recyclables. Each are collected on alternate weeks. We also have a smaller bin for recyclable paper. The pile of black bags you see in the Mail photo should not contain anything of interest to vermin, and at any rate it is the householder’s responsibility not to leave waste food outside in bags.
For those of us with larger families, we struggle to cope with one bin per fortnight for non-recyclable items. This is mainly down to the excess packaging that food producers and supermarkets foist on us. But I also find that many residents are filling their grey bins with items which are recyclable! Glass bottles, aluminium cans and recyclable plastic bottles are still going into the grey bins. The problem is that WDC are not doing enough to recycle these items. We do have bottle banks, but frustratingly they are not emptied often enough. I was outraged once when I turned up with a fortnight’s bottles I had carefully saved, only to be told to throw them in the rubbish because the bottle bank was overflowing. I have worked on the continent, where a four-bin system is routinely used to manage waste and recycling. If they can do it – so can we.
Bins are like motorways, if we just give people more bins – we will fill them. We have to cut excess packaging at source and make it easier for people to recycle the recyclable packaging that is currently ending up in landfill.