Changes to Recycling Services See Increasing Attacks on Rubbish Collectors


Worrying statistics have emerged which show that record numbers of refuse collectors are being assaulted by people who are angry at the changes to rules and services that have been implemented by many councils across the UK.

Rubbish collectors are being punched, spat at, threatened with knives, egged and even headbutted by disgruntled residents and motorists.

A freedom of Information disclosure revealed that last year, there were 393 incidents, which is an increase of 27% from the year before.

recycling men

Recorded incidents

The shocking incidents included:

  • Bin men being assaulted after explaining to householders that they had sorted their recycling incorrectly.
  • Refuse vehicle workers being attacked in road rage incidents by drivers who were stuck behind their truck.
  • A bin man being attacked with a bayonet for refusing to empty a recycling bin contaminated with household waste. The perpetrator was jailed.
  • In Manchester, an angry resident attacked a refuse lorry crew and set off a fire extinguisher through the lorry cab window.
  • One refuse collector being left with a fractured skull in North Warwickshire after a road rage attack.  
  • Crews being egged by children, driven into by motorists, and even being the target of racist abuse.
bin man

Local authority response

The Local Government Association stated that assaults on refuse staff are completely unacceptable and that councils will push for prosecution of perpetrators. They also added that the people who carry out these assaults are in the minority and that most people are happy with their bin collection services.

The situation around the UK

The refuse collectors are on the front line, and unfortunately, they have had to bear the brunt of the anger caused by situations like these;

Bury

Furious homeowners have been asked to sign up for private waste collections at a cost of £25 per month, as the council say they can’t afford to increase the frequency of their collections. Budget cuts forced the council to reduce the frequency of collections to just once per month and to reduce the size of the bins they handed out to residents. Many residents complained about the increasing amount of rubbish being dumped in alleyways and on public land.

One private firm, Bury Bins, charge around £8.40 to empty a bin, and this amounts to £330 per year for the average household, on top of their council tax.

To add to residents’ woes, they say that the company contracted to collect their recycling, Viridor, only collects certain types of plastics. This has led to overflowing bins as people have to put items like yoghurt pots and butter tubs in with their household waste.

The council responded by saying that the changes would save them £800,000 per year, which was necessary as central government told them that they had to find savings of £365 million. They defended the cost cutting measures, saying that the money would go back into frontline services. They stated that the changes to services had seen an increase in recycling from 24% to 57%.

bury bin

Birmingham

You won’t have missed the plight of residents in Birmingham, who were left with piles of rubbish rotting in the streets as refuse collectors went on strike. The strikes came after the council revealed plans to save £5 million a year through a restructuring scheme which is set to cost at least 120 jobs. Hundreds of tonnes of waste was removed by volunteers who stepped in to carry out collections. 100,000 residents have since signed a petition calling for a council tax refund since their bins weren’t collected for 6 weeks.