Birmingham will soon come into line with other urban areas, in providing its householders with wheeled bins for their waste collections. The City Council has received a grant from Central Government to introduce a three-bin system: a recycling bin, a garden waste bin, and a “residual” rubbish bin.

Their reasons are mainly to do with tidiness, i.e. not having piles of bags in the streets, splitting and being torn open by animals. A large capacity recycling bin will prevent plastic and paper from blowing down the street and encourage more recyclables to be stored and collected. Equally, the rat population should drop when they cannot get at the food waste. Not only this, but there will be a cost saving in not having to distribute millions of rubbish bags every year.

The system will be trialled in two city wards, to see what kinds of bins are suited to different types of household. There is a video with more information at

Birmingham Friends of the Earth is saying that a new bin system should allow for separate food waste collection. In Wales, this is normal, as it moves towards its goal of 70% of household waste to be composted or recycled. We recently had a lively discussion meeting about Anaerobic Digestion (AD) of food waste to make gas, which is already in operation for households in Sandwell district, (as photo) where it has helped the recycling rate of the area jump to 53%. Birmingham is stuck down at 32% so needs to change if its new 60% target is to become realistic.

The City Council will be holding a Waste Scrutiny Review in early 2013, to look ahead to the end of its waste contract with Veolia in 2018. Birmingham has a great chance to put in place a system in the next few years that is clean, green and costs council-tax payers less, by treating our waste as a resource, not something to be burned and buried. At least everyone seems to be talking about this issue!