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The remnants of the previous week’s living spilling over into the street, foaming-at-the-mouth, bleary-eyed residents clad in blood-soaked dressing gowns, clutching a recycling box to their chest like a lost-and-found child and A MAN LITERALLY ON FIRE…it can only be Recyclogeddon!

I haven’t blogged about Recyclogeddon for a while, but our demise still approaches in the shape of red and blue plastic boxes (are the boxes made of recycled plastic by the way?). I’ve been chasing down people for recycling horror stories, and I haven’t been disappointed. Most people share the same experience; a stolen box followed by a laborious process trying to get a new one. Of course, some people skipped this step all together, with my favourite story being one where the resident stole someone else’s box and stuck their house number on it following a theft. Compassion and loving thy neighbour appears to be being destroyed by the box theft epidemic, each box stolen like a thread pulled from the fabric of society (I do enjoy these melodramatic metaphors).

Anyway, I’ve decided to email the council about the issue. This is the text of that email:

To whom it may concern,

I’m a journalist for, a website covering environmental issues in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. I’ve been researching recycling boxes and the day-to-day running of recycling schemes in Birmingham, and I have a query.

My query is regarding the theft of recycling boxes. I’ve talked to many people about their recycling box stories, and they all share a common experience; their box was stolen for no apparent reason. I don’t expect you to be aware of who is stealing boxes, nor what motives they may have, but the theft causes a chain reaction of theivery, with residents stealing other boxes in order to replace their stolen box.

Have you ever caught anyone stealing a recycling box, or are you aware of the plight? I was first made aware of the issue whilst reading a newspaper article from five years ago (when door-to-door recycling was still a new concept), but it appears no real progress has been made with the issue.

On your website, there is a number to call if you have had your box stolen, which promises a replacement box. However, having spoken to people who’ve had their recycling box stolen, the phone service is confusing and long-winded, which led many just not to bother with it. Why are people being passed around several departments just to gain a recycling box?

I was wondering what plans you had to address this issue, because it affects Birmingham residents’ ability to recycle, even if they have every intention to do so.

Thank you,
Christopher Smith

Hopefully they’ll get back to me soon. I also found this from Colchester Council earlier regarding their policy on stolen recycling boxes. How simple is that? Your box gets stolen, you go and get a new one. No long winded phone calls, no being passed around departments. You simply get a new one. Why, oh why, Birmingham City Council, can’t it be that simple here?

I’ve also just found this little gem on the BCC recycling website. They’re looking for ‘recycling champions’ to go door-to-door to promote recycling. These champions don’t get paid, but volunteer. That’s right, they do the council’s job for them. For free. Has anyone seen any of these champions and perhaps even been contacted by them? Let me know.


One Comment

  1. Glad I live in a big complex with shared recycling bins! Don’t fancy having to put my recycling bin on a lead so it never leaves my sight…

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