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COLIN CAMPBELL: More Highland bin changes, while some still trash existing rules

By Colin Campbell

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More bins are on the way.
More bins are on the way.

Even though the carbon-neutral, net-zero jargon we hear so much of today didn't exist at the time, when I think back I realise no one was more environmentally conscious than my late mother. She wasn't given to walking at a snail's pace along busy roads to hold up traffic and as far as I'm aware she never spray painted the windows of any business deemed to be failing to fall into line with the militant green agenda.

Her contribution to saving the planet was to follow to the letter a request from the council to separate paper from other refuse when it came to the weekly pick-up.

That was back in the 1980s and it took considerably more time and input than it does now. At the time there was only one refuse bin for each household and everything went in it. But the council requested that paper be left out separately.

Highland Council’s new domestic bins now being delivered across Inverness-shire

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Back then a lot of newspapers came into many houses - a lot more than, regrettably, do now - and that was what the council primarily focused on. So before the weekly collection day my mother would gather together every last one around the house and pile them on to a large bundle tied together with a piece of twine. A neater pile of papers out on the street you never did see. She was disappointed and baffled when the council suddenly ditched the separate papers requirement. What had her efforts been for?

If she was still here today I'm fairly certain that she still wouldn't be doing any spray painting or slow walking but she'd still be following all the bin separation requirements to the letter. Those of her generation tended to be like that. Grumbling over minor inconvenience wasn't their way.

More bin changes are coming up, with the addition of an extra one to the external line-up, involving more separation of waste and refuse. Collections for different recycling bins will either be fortnightly or every four weeks, but food waste bins will be picked up every week apparently. How well all this will work obviously remains to be seen.

As things stand you can't help noticing blue recycling bins on the streets with the lids propped open by bulging general junk. Regrettably, young people that I know are guilty of this transgression. And when I mentioned it to them they were actually unaware of what they were supposed to do. It was just another bin.

In terms of waste there's no doubt there’s a lot less paper around in our increasingly "paperless" society these days than there used to be, so a change in the system may be overdue.

But at a time when environmental issues are high on the agenda, it is questionable how many people aren’t following the requirements that we have now. And how many sloppily think they haven't the time to mess about with refuse separation and just throw it in wherever it lands.

The council has its well-intentioned aspirations, but with even more rules to follow a large number of people still remain to be converted into going along with them.

However I know my mother, attuned like many of her generation to making a humble contribution to society in any way they could, would follow the new guidance as if it was Holy Writ.

How much the ardently net zero council must wish there were more people around with that attitude today.

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