HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds has been spent on storing new wheelie bins when they could have been used by Cornish taxpayers, says a Liskeard councillor.
Every household was due to receive a wheelie bin (or a seagull-proof black sack) after Cornwall Council entered into a new waste collection contract with Biffa, originally due to start in February 2021. Under the new regime, regular refuse will be separated from food waste with “black bag” rubbish and recycling to be collected fortnightly and food waste to be collected weekly.
But the new collections are still yet to begin in Cornwall, with the Council putting that down to upgrades needing to be made to the county’s waste management facilities.
In the meantime, though, an estimated 200,000 wheelie bins have been sitting in a warehouse since they were purchased in 2021, and the cost of keeping them there has now exceeded £300,000.
Acting Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Cornwall Council Colin Martin says the delay is bad for the environment as well as being a waste of money: “Every day across Cornwall, hundreds of bin bags are torn open by birds and animals, and rubbish is spilled into the environment. Aside from looking unsightly, the litter can be a hazard to health and of course much of the plastic ends up stuck in our rivers and seas.
“This problem could have been solved years ago if the Council had stuck to the Liberal Democrat plan to provide every household with either a wheelie bin or a seagull-proof sack in 2021. There is simply no excuse for spending our money on warehouse storage when these bins could be in use outside our homes.”
The precise cost was revealed by a Freedom of Information request made by Liskeard Town Councillor Naomi Taylor. The Council’s response states that £303,511.18 has been spent so far on storing the bins at a location believed to be near Newquay Airport.
Cllr Taylor says that new lorries with bin lifts have been on Cornwall’s roads since 2021 – leaving no room for excuses as to why the wheelie bins could not have been trundled out at the same time.
A Cornwall Council spokesperson responded: "As part of changes to rubbish and recycling collections being rolled out in stages over the next two years, every household in Cornwall will receive a new wheelie bin or protective reusable sack, an outdoor food waste caddy and a kitchen food waste caddy. There will be no cost to households for the new bins and the changes will ensure we recycle far more waste in Cornwall than we do currently.
"We purchased the bins in 2021 to ensure prices were fixed as low as possible, and to prevent supply chain issues and inflationary costs of production. To date it has proven cheaper to store these bins than to purchase them at today’s prices. There have been delays while work continues to upgrade our waste and recycling transfer sites to allow the new waste collection service to start."