Councils get into the sack race

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Our attention is drawn to a report in the Falmouth Packet, the local newspaper for the good people of south and west Cornwall, where the local council is trying out a new method of managing waste collections.

Falmouth is one of the many towns that hasn’t switched over their domestic collections to wheeled bins, and instead asks local households to present their refuse in plastic sacks. The reasons for this are many, but in our experience, councils tend to baulk at the expense of providing thousands of households with wheeled bins, as well as contracting or purchasing suitably equipped collection lorries. Falmouth also has problems with geography making, the hills around the town and narrow roads making large areas unsuitable for wheeled bin storage.

Being a seaside town, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that bin day in Falmouth is the best day of the week for the local seagulls. This means the town council has been forced to come up with a suitable solutions on a limited waste management budget. And they got the sack.

Great big heavy duty sacks, to be precise. It’s a solution that’s becoming popular around the country – heavy duty plastic sacks that take up to six regular-sized bin bags, meaning that refuse can be presented on the day in a container that is gull-proof, but can also be stored flat when not in use. Of course, they’re suitable for both domestic and commercial use, and as long as separated waste is properly bagged it should prove no great problem for refuse roundsmen.

Our only real concern is what happens to these huge sacks on a windy day. Wheeled bins tend not to blow away, but when it’s puffing an Atlantic gale, half of Falmouth’s sacks could be most of the way to Devon before they know what’s happening. One presumes that arrangements are made for this sort of eventuality, probably by the council coming round every house in the borough with a brick to weigh down their bags.

Carping aside, it looks an elegant solution to an age-old problem in coastal towns – we’ll see how it pans out.

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