Collecting the rubbish bins is probably one of the most important services your council provides, as well as one of the least celebrated. Refuse collection isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it is vital and can instantly cause problems if it isn’t done – just ask the people of Leeds, who were affected by a long bin strike over proposed pay reductions in 2009.

It’s worth knowing your rights and what you can expect when it comes to bin collections, so you can raise the issue with the relevant authorities if the duties aren’t carried out.

Firstly, all councils operate a weekly refuse collection to pick up the rubbish from your main bin. You’ll be able to find details about what day your bin is due to be picked up from your council’s website. They also operate recycling bin collections at varying intervals: some councils will pick up your paper recycling once a fortnight, while others will do it once a month. This often depends on the size of bin they’ve provided you with.

If your bin is missed off the collection round, then you should get in touch with the council to let them know to make sure it was a genuine oversight and that your rubbish gets picked up as soon as possible.

It’s also worth knowing that a lot of councils operate rules that stipulate they won’t collect any bin that doesn’t have its lid properly shut, and you can be subject to fines and repeat refused collection if you don’t remedy the situation. There are a couple of reasons for this: firstly, it’s a way of getting you to reduce the amount of rubbish you put out (and so, in theory, you’ll be recycling more) and secondly, it’s for hygiene reasons. Keeping your bins tightly shut stops any bad smells from escaping and reduces the chances of rubbish falling out or rats getting in.

You should also check out who is responsible for supplying the refuse bin: often the council will provide you with the bin, but this isn’t always the case. If the council give you a bin and it gets lost or stolen, you should report it straight away. If it’s your own bin and it gets stolen, then it’ll be up to you to sort it out, although you can get advice from the council on how to secure your bin against theft.

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