A photograph of communal bins in a back lane

The council is introducing communal bins, where appropriate, in some areas of Newcastle that have back lane waste and recycling collections.

Back lanes present a number of challenges for the refuse collection service:

  • Takes crews longer to service these areas
  • Additional resources are allocated to back lanes to deal with excess waste
  • There is a demand for replacing bins

The new communal bins would be shared by everyone in the street, replacing the domestic bins currently used by each household, and would:

  • Improve the appearance of those lanes where a large number of household bins are frequently left out
  • Reduce the amount of 'side waste' left out beside bins
  • Help keep lanes clear of abandoned bins so mechanical sweepers can access them and keep them clean
  • Reduce the costs of replacing lost bins
  • Provide more opportunities to recycle
  • Reduce collection times for refuse and recycling crews

We have implemented communal bins in South Jesmond, Ouseburn and Benwell and Scotswood wards. Feedback has been positive from local communities.

Further roll out is planned for other wards where this will be of benefit.

We will be writing to every resident in the streets to inform them about the changes to their service. We will then write to residents to tell them about dates for their bins being installed.

What are communal bins?

Communal bins are large wheeled bins which are shared by all the residents in a particular back lane. They replace the separate domestic bins currently used by each household. There are separate communal bins for recycling and household waste. Those residents that pay for the garden waste (brown bin) service will retain their individual bin and collection arrangements. We make sure that there are enough communal bins in a back lane to accommodate all the waste that people put out, and to make sure that residents don't have to carry their waste too far from their own door. Because the shared bins sit permanently in the back lane you don't have to worry about putting your own bin out or bringing it back in again - just put your rubbish in the big bin when it is convenient to you.

Why does this make a difference?

We have found that in some back lanes, the normal household bins are sometimes not put out in time for collection rounds, or not brought in afterwards. From time to time they get too full and rubbish gets littered up and down the back lane. When the bins get too full there can also be a temptation to leave bags of rubbish and large items by the side of the bin. This too can get scattered around and cause problems with vermin. There will be enough of the bigger communal bins in each back lane to take all the waste and recycling from the street - without the need for individual households to remember to put the bin out or bring it back in.

Can't you use enforcement to make people bring their separate domestic bins in after collection?

Even though separate domestic bins not brought in after collection causes lots of problems we can't force people to bring their bins in as it isn't illegal.

Controls on empty bins exist in Greater London only. Under the Deregulation Bill [2014], the law on household waste is changing. The Government has proposed that a civil penalty is introduced which can be applied where it can be proved that the actions of the householders have caused harm to the local amenity. This civil penalty will not apply to bins left out.

How often will the communal bins be emptied?

The communal bins will be collected on alternate weeks. One week it will be general waste, and the following week it will be the recycling collection.

Will there be the same amount of space in the communal bins as there was with the individual green bin, blue bin and black caddy?

Yes, the volume of the bins available on each lane is based on the number of properties, so will be the same as currently available. We will be keeping an eye on this and changing the number of bins if there is a need.

I don't want to have to walk far down the lane with my rubbish - where will the bins be located?

Bins will be located along the length of the lane in groups of  waste and mixed recycling. You will not need to walk the full length of the lane because all bins will be close by. We will not block any back gate or garage access with bins. Residents can use any suitable bin in their back lane.

I don't want a bin outside my back gate - can the bins be relocated elsewhere in my lane?

We will consider the locations for each lane individually and there may be opportunities to change these.

My back lane is on a slope - will the communal bins still be put in?

All back lanes have been surveyed for access issues and to consider the geography of the lane. If necessary we will make sure the bins are secured in place. All communal bins have locking wheels.

I have an assisted lift service for my bins - will I still receive this?

Yes, assisted lifts will continue for all residents who currently receive this service. We will be contacting everyone who has this service individually to discuss options.

It may be you no longer feel you need this service because you will not have to move or lift the bins yourself, or maybe you are not currently a customer but feel you need this service. In both cases you will need to contact Envirocall (link).

The lids on communal bins are quite large - will they be difficult to lift up?

There will be special inserts within the lids that will make them easier to use and should help prevent bulky items filling up in the bins.

Are the lids on communal bins locked to stop them being misused?

Yes. The large lids on the communal bins have self closing locks after they have been emptied.

Will it be obvious what items should go into which bin?

The bins will be clearly labelled as household waste only; mixed recycling; and some lanes will have separate bins for glass only. We will also use recycling symbols that are commonly used so it will be even clearer what should go into each bin. We will also link up with schools, local groups and organisations to help us ensure people know what to do with their waste, and encourage greater recycling.

Will l be able to recycle the same items that I can now?

Yes. There will be a communal bin for mixed recycling - cardboard, paper, cartons, bagged batteries, plastic bottles, tins and cans, aerosols and glass. In some lanes there will be separate bin provided for glass bottles and jars only. We do not want plastic bags in the recycling bins so if you bring your recycling in plastic bags please dispose of these in the general waste bin once you have emptied your recycling into the containers

Please take textiles to charities or clothing banks.

Will the council clean out the communal bins?

No. There are already communal bins in flats and other areas across the city and this is not a service that is offered. Waste placed in the general bins should be bagged and tied so should not cause any odour or hygiene issues. Items for recycling should be rinsed and squashed before being put in the recycling bins so should not cause problems. The only exception is used batteries that should be bagged before being placed in the recycling bin.

What do I do with my existing wheeled bins when communal bins are introduced to my street?

You will be advised about this in the letter you will receive before your communal bins arrive. We will ask you to leave your bins and caddy out in the lane and these will be collected, cleaned and reused elsewhere where possible.

I pay for you to collect my garden waste from my brown bin. Will I still need this service?

Yes, this service is separate. Collections won't be affected by communal bins and we will continue to request that people return their brown bins to their property following collection. For more information visit our garden waste webpage.

There are shops and commercial premises nearby that use our blue and green bins - what will be done about this?

All businesses should make separate arrangements for their waste collections. If you are aware that this is not the case please contact Envirocall to report this. As part of our monitoring of the new service we will make sure commercial premises do not abuse the systems we have. We attach labels to remind commercial premises that the bins are for domestic waste only.

What if these bins get full because people use them to get rid of bulky items?

The larger domestic waste and mixed recycling bins have special inserts in the lids which should prevent bulky items being placed in them.

If you have bulky items you want to get rid of you can arrange a collection online or phone 0191 278 7878. There is a charge for collections.

You can also take bulky items free of charge to a Household Waste Recycling Centre. If items could be reused, upcycled or recycled, there are charities that will collect them free of charge. You could also sell them or give them to friends, family or neighbours.

Has identity theft been considered?

We recommend all residents dispose of information containing personal details (name and address on envelopes, bank statements etc.) carefully to avoid any identity theft issues. This applies to those with individual wheeled bins as well as communal bins.

Will communal bins increase the opportunity for burglars to access back yards?

Bins are already left out in lanes so there is no increased risk. In areas where communal bins have been introduced, the police have confirmed there has been no increase in theft or burglary due to communal bins.

How will you deal with fly-tippers?

Enforcement operations will continue to monitor back lanes and take action when possible. There are also CCTV cameras in some areas to monitor environmental crime.

Is there an increased risk of fire or arson with communal bins?

Depending on the bin contents and the air available, it will still be possible to start a fire in a communal bin. However, the fire will be better contained in a metal bin with a solid lid.

How will you ensure there are enough bins for the Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs)?

The number of bins is calculated based on an average of four people per property. We are aware there are properties with greater numbers of occupants. This will be taken into account, along with information we have about households with six or more people. We will be keeping an eye on this and can make changes if needed.

Will you remove additional waste that is left beside the bins?

We hope the capacity of the communal bins will avoid this. Waste and recycling will only be collected by crews if it is placed in the appropriate container. Any rubbish left outside a bin (communal or indivudual) could leave the person who left the waste out liable to prosecution.

If communal bins are introduced to my back lane, what would I do if I have an issue or a problem?

You should report any issue with your communal bin to Envirocall online or phone 0191 278 7878 and ask for 'Envirocall'.

Page last updated: 
5 July 2017
Was this page useful?