Mid and East Antrim ratepayers have reacted angrily to council proposals which could see black bin collections reduced to once every three weeks.
The move, which is part of efforts to meet recycling targets, was one of a range of initiatives discussed at a meeting of the council’s Operational Committee in Carrickfergus last Monday evening.
The bin collection move could form part of the council’s Transformation of Waste Services Plan, which aims to boost recycling to meet the council’s statutory target of 50 per cent by 2020 to avoid “significant fines” and reduce the £3.5 million annual bill from waste sent to landfill.
Councillors agreed to introduce a ban on food waste in black bins from April 1 2017 as part of the first step in a three-stage system.
The second stage would involve the introduction of triple stack kerb side collection containers in Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne, with a final report on this to be brought back to council in January.
The third stage, subject to the approval of options and recycling performance, would see consideration given to three-weekly black bin collections. A final report on this will also be brought back to council in January.
The council’s Head of Waste Stephen Holgate said that as the plan was taken through each stage and the impact on recycling from each step clarified then the next step could be considered.
“We can see if we want to consider triple stacks or sticking with kerb side bin collections and if we want to consider three week or four week collection,” he stated.
However, local residents took to Facebook in droves to voice their fury at any potential reduction in the frequency of bin collections.
One woman commented: “It’s a joke!!!! The average household can’t cope with every two weeks without making it longer.”
Another stated: “Two weeks is hard enough! A bigger bin would be essential, I have five children so would be at a huge disadvantage when it would come to the likes of comparing a single occupancy household.
“Reducing the number of collection dates won’t reduce the amount of waste, people will just have to resort to other ways to get rid of it (fly tipping, taking it to the dump themselves) ,” claimed another.
“It’s still going to end up in landfill in the end, so many types of packaging that can’t be recycled. “
One ratepayer said that she was already having to deposit extra waste at the dump under the current fortnightly collection system, while another claimed that local residents were “already paying private companies to do dump runs for them as our bins are so full.”
Another disgruntled local woman said:“If they change it to 3 weekly I will be leaving my excess rubbish at the gates of the depot.”
“My bins are full every fortnight and sometimes have to squash them down. That’s with recycling properly ,” added a social media user.
Health and safety was also at the forefront of several locals’ concerns, with fears that such a move could lead to an increase in flytipping, vermin and maggots.
“I would need a larger bin because of nappies and two children, think of the smell in summer, it’s bad enough after two weeks,” said one.
“Flies and rats would be everywhere it would just encourage fly tipping and a bigger problem for the council.”
Another claimed: “ At the minute here in this area because we are fortnightly the rats are so tame they just wander about through the day ,what would it not be like if it was a three week lift.”
Several residents said they would expect a reduction in rates if black bin collections were reduced.