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Bugged rubbish bins 'will charge'

BBC | October 4 2006

More than 30 councils are fitting microchips to wheelie bins ahead of possible "pay as you throw" schemes.

It is the latest attempt to encourage more recycling to curb the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill.

Household rubbish would be weighed to within 500 grams on collection trucks and the chips used to identify which property the bin belongs to.

Councils are expecting to get the go-ahead from the government to start using the chips to charge residents.

Many local authorities are in favour of "pay as you throw" and are already anticipating the changes, according to the information uncovered by BBC One's Real Story.

But Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association's environment board, appreciates that certain councils have taken the wrong approach.

"Any council that's issued chipped bins and hasn't informed their residents I would say has scored something of an own goal. We need to work with the public and it's sad that seemingly some councils didn't," he said.

Once weighed, a bill for the waste would be sent to the owner.

Local authorities do not yet have the power to use the chips to charge people but have started introducing them in the expectation that they will be used.

The Mail on Sunday reported that an estimated 25,000 chips had been removed by disgruntled residents in Bournemouth.

Mr Bettison told BBC News in August that he expected weighing schemes to be commonplace across the UK within two years.

Tough fines

With an estimated nine years of landfill space left, councils up and down the UK are faced with a tough decision about what to do with the UK's waste.

Simply burying rubbish in the ground is no longer an option.

Local authorities face tough fines from the government on what they bury and by 2010 they will have to meet 40% of recycling targets to avoid EU sanctions.

In some areas recycling is now compulsory, meaning if people do not comply rubbish will not be cleared away and they could face prosecution.

Alternate weekly collections are one way of tackling the problem but they have not been warmly welcomed by residents who say councils need to collect the domestic waste more frequently.

Mr Bettison believes that if people want to keep weekly collections of all household waste they will have to face the reality that it is going to cost them.

"If you wanted us to collect both bins each week that would mean doubling the number of collections and that would add approximately £100 a year to your council tax.

"There may be people who wouldn't want to pay that."

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