How I hacked my bins

Am I really writing about my bins? Yes, yes I am.

Everyone around me seems to be obsessed with recycling, cutting down on single use plastics and reducing the chemicals in their homes. I’m no exception to the rule. Last year I tried to:

  • cut down on the amount of chemicals I was using to clean my flat
  • I stopped buying new clothes
  • limit the amount of single use plastics I was buying

So, I was pleasantly surprised with the government announcement, that food recycling is going to be mandatory for local councils across the UK pretty soon. And that the government is taking some action against large corporations about their plastic use too.

Why am I bringing this up?

Living in a block of flats means that recycling can be difficult. I live in a small block of flats — there’s only 6 flats in the whole building, with a different number of tenants in each flat.

That doesn’t seem too bad on the surface.

Like a lot of councils across the UK, my local council has alternate weekly household refuse collections. That means, all your everyday rubbish, the stuff that can’t be recycled, is collected once every couple of weeks.

This came alongside a weekly recycling collection. So, the theory goes, the more you recycle, the less you’ll need your normal household waste collected.

Makes total sense.

But, and this is a big but. The majority of non-recyclable household waste is food waste.

My block of flats only has one standard black bin and double bin for 6 flats for household waste. And we’re not allowed to do food recycling.

I’ll just repeat that. We’re not allowed to do food recycling.

This is where I’d like to introduce a new character to this epic tale: the role of the building management company. Our building management company, is responsible for our buildings’ bins, including our recycling bins. And the council then come and collect those bins. Simple.

My block of flats has a recycling store, where not just my block of flats, but surrounding flats and houses recycle cardboard, plastic, tins etc. So I messaged my building management company to see if we could get a food recycling bin too, in order to:

  1. Cut down the amount of rubbish in our communal refuse bins
  2. Cut down on waste going to landfill sites
  3. Better align to trends and changes in recycling across the country

(Knowing that this is something that’s going to be enforced pretty soon).

Let me remind you, our household waste is only collected once every two weeks. You can only imagine how badly our bins are overflowing by the end of the two weeks — it’s disgusting to say the least.

My building management company straight up said no.

Pretty silly. There’s loads of room in the recycling store and it’s something I’ve seen other blocks of flats across Manchester do (shout out to Urban Bubble who have done a great job of introducing food waste recycling to some of your buildings). It makes sense to help tenants recycle and align to government and local council initiatives. Plus, it makes it an easier job for bin crews and building management staff as they won’t be dealing with over flowing bins anymore.

The hack

I just ordered my own food recycling caddies instead. Apologies if you thought I might have gone full hacker and built my own waste collection service — I haven’t.

But, the building management company kept throwing my food recycling bins away (which, is totally not okay since they’re the council’s property!)

My food recycling bins kept mysteriously disappearing from the recycling store and I was taking them out every week and they kept going missing.

So. I ordered another one. And another one…

What I do now, is keep my food recycling outside my flat door (sorry neighbours). Put it out weekly and bring it back inside. It doesn’t get too rank since it’s a weekly collection, so no one has complained yet. It’s a much easier way to deal with waste and it means I don’t need to take my bins out nearly as often.

Problem solved. I am now able to:

  1. Recycle my food waste
  2. Cut down my household refuse
  3. Cut down how much waste gets added to that growing pile in our household waste store
  4. Limit the risk of the overflowing household waste falling on my me

And, that my friends, is how I hacked my bins.

I’m yet to hear from the building management company on how they’ll address changes in legislation and policy to households having to commit to food recycling. I also haven’t had anyone complain about what I’m doing, so I’ma keep doing it.

Let’s see what happens.