Wheelie bin cutbacks branded ‘a shambles’

By Kaye Wiggins

Messy bins on a Brixton street this week

Councillors clashed over wheelie bin cutbacks during a heated debate in the town hall.

The debate followed the council’s decision to halve the size of wheelie bins across Lambeth and force households to share bins with their neighbours, a move designed to increase recycling rates and reduce waste.

The Liberal Democrat councillor Christine Barratt said the change left many residents with “no option but to leave binbags on the pavement for the foxes to rip them open.”

She said it was particularly tough for households with babies and young children because the shortage of space made it difficult to get rid of nappies.

Ashley Lumsden, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, described the policy as “a complete shambles, with many residents left without bins resulting in rubbish being strewn across streets.”

However, Labour councillor Imogen Walker said only 2% of residents had asked for information about how to get their bigger bin back. Of these, she said, “most didn’t need one and opportunities for recycling were discussed with them.”

She said the change would save over £2m per year and had been a major success, with recycling rates up 36%. Residents were changing their behaviour to adapt to the smaller bins, she added.


  1. In other parts of the country small biodegradable bags to fit food bins are provided free. Lambeth does not do this. I buy my own but, with the best will in the world, most people will not do this, whether it be out of ignorance, laziness or some other reason. As a consequence, walk down any street and you come across many front gardens infested with flies, attracted by unsealed rotting food. In the interests of hygiene, not to mention the safety of the men who do the collection, to provide these free.

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  3. Whilst I personally have no issue having only one bin to share with my downstairs neighbour (in fact, we could easily manage with one of the skinny ones and we also share one food waste bin as we are both singletons and don’t produce that much rubbish), I do feel that the scheme has been pretty badly implemented. Our next door property consists of four flats, all inhabited by at least two people, and they have only the one bin between them so this is constantly overflowing and this is not only an eyesore but their rubbish is regularly left out for the foxes to help themselves to. They really need a second bin for that number of people. I also have to comment on the recycling bags…. if you wash your food containers, as you are supposed to, there is no smell and therefore no temptation for the foxes.

  4. I’m pleased that we have smaller bins. Food packaging and other recycling is washed so our orange bags aren’t smelling attractive to foxes. We can empty the caddy much more frequently than the other bins so our “wet” rubbish bin inside also doesn’t smell any more either.

    There is very little indeed that goes in our main rubbish bin anyway – it could be a third of the size of the new small bin.

    But I guess that it all depends on what sorts of food people buy. Fresh meat and veg, also dry rice and pasta have relatively little packaging but I recognise that some people may need to rely on prepared meals or to buy cheaper processed and packaged foods.

  5. I think the current bin system doesn’t work at all! Our flat recycles but the thin plastic bags that you put recycling in are torn open by foxes when put in the street for bin collection day and then waste is left all down the street. Where I used to live we had bins to put the recycling bags in which would stop the issues with foxes etc tearing them open. Why does Brixton not have those? Plus living in a building of 3 flats and 1 bin to share is not enough…yes we recyle but come on we pay enough for council tax…I think we should be allowed to have a bin that isn’t overflowing every week!!

  6. At Council Leader’s Question and Answer session last month in Streatham, Councillor Lib Peck admitted that there have been problems, so to say it has been a complete success is clearly wrong.

    The half bin and small food waste container provides less total volume for household waste, yet residents have not been told what to do with their excess rubbish? It is no wonder that people are just bagging it up and leaving it on the pavements.

    In our street there have definitely been problems, especially with flat conversions where three flats are now being given only one half size bin. (Also the empty food bins blow over too easily.)

    Addressing these problems would be more helpful than pretending it’s all working beautifully, when it is not.

  7. It’s a great idea and far from a shambles. Anything to make us all recycle more and reduce landfill is a good thing. On our street there’s only one house with overflowing bins and that’s because they don’t recycle. They put all their rubbish in the black bin which isn’t designed to take recyclable rubbish which should go in orange bags. If you look at the picture that Brixton Blog has posted, there are contaminated rubbish stickers all over the bags which proves the point that those affected aren’t recycling properly. Everyone else manages just fine. Lib Dems need to get their facts straight. It’s about educating the minority that refuse to recycle. Surely there are more important things for councillors to be debating like the housing crisis in and crime!

  8. Who exactly are using those brown caddy food waste bins? Just put your food waste in the big bin. Cleaner, less smelly and less hassle.

    • Or, you could put it in your caddy bin so that it can be collected to capture methane gas, create compost, reduce landfill and use the revenue to keep council/resident’s costs down?

  9. It seems like a very necessary response to the amount of waste that we all produce. Typical wingeing lib dems.

  10. How much has it cost to get rid of the old bins? That seems like a complete waste of money to me. Since the new bins have been introduced the streets have been overflowing with extra rubbish and the small brown food waste bins have been strewn across the streets by the wind and the foxes – well done Lambeth! A complete waste of money!

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