Following a few complaints and comments on local Facebook sites it was my intention to write up another piece about recycling on my website. I then found that at Solihull’s Annual Council in May I was appointed Cabinet Member with responsibility for Environment, Housing and Regeneration. This includes waste and recycling.

Solihull Council’s website has lots of information about waste and recycling for householders on its website and this can be accessed via this link:



Number of households collected                                              90,000 per week

Cost of waste collection to SMBC                                             £4.8m

Management of Bickenhill Waste Recycling Centre             £0.3m

 In addition to the above, there are costs we also pay to treat and dispose of the material collected from the kerbside and Bickenhill centre:

Coventry & Solihull Waste Disposal Co.                                 £2.5m

(Energy from Waste plant)

Waste Treatment (garden Composting and                           £0.7m

Processing mixed recycling)

 Landfill (including haulage charge)                                          £0.4m



Complaints about recycling include: Overzealous crews, why was the offending item not just placed in the black bin by the operative, bin not being placed back properly, bins being missed, contradictions in what we recycle in the borough.

Complaints about crew behaviour: These are taken very seriously and you may see from the report to the Neighbourhood services Scrutiny Board (May 2015), which I chaired at that time, a report relating to the new service, was presented to the scrutiny board. This report identified complaints, their type and how they are being dealt with. Paragraph 3.22 covers the issues of complaint with a clear statement that ‘Rude and inconsiderate behaviour from the crews is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.’

 A chart within the report detailing how complaints as well as compliments are recorded is copied here:



To move forwards, SMBC together with Amey (the council contracted company) will be bringing together a charter to show what service level customers can expect and what the operatives can expect from customers.

Overzealous Crews: 

It is accepted there are on occasions crews/operatives that are overzealous and the council is again working with Amey to ensure a consistency throughout the borough. Each crew/operative should adhere to the same standards of operation and customers should not be treated differently by different crews. SMBC is working with operators to ensure a consistent approach; it is not good that some areas receive a different level of service that others or that householders receive different levels of service from different crews/operatives when different crews turn up.

It must also be borne in mind though that some reports of overzealousness may be the result of an indifferent service level by previous operatives who may not have been so careful when inspecting bins on collection. It is important to residents and the service level agreement with the council and contractors that a consistent service is given across the borough at every collection. This is very relevant to the quality of the product that goes to the end user/buyer. Therefore overzealous operatives are just one of the issues that are being monitored.

Why can not the offending item be removed by the operative?

 With 90,000 collections per week it is difficult to expect a service whereby all bins are checked for offending items at the household. The costs this would incur would have to borne by the council taxpayers. It is also likely that any contamination observed at the top of any bin may occur elsewhere in the bin. As we see in the text box below, contamination has a cost to the borough.

Protection of crews:

This unfortunately goes hand in hand with complaints against crews. We have policies to protect Doctors, Nurses and other health professionals from abuse and we also need to protect all staff as well. There is an absolute need for crews to be professional and serve the community but they should be protected during the execution of policies they work to. It is not their fault that all item can not be placed in certain bins and not their fault that recycling companies complain about contamination with the end product.

A report is coming to my decision making session on 8 June and this is posted here: Cab-Mem- Negative Behaviour Policy – June 13 V1 . The appendices that accompany the report can be viewed on line here:

The report outlines how staff feels they have been treated during their work time. As a former police leader I had no problems with an officer taking a bit of stick if he/she deserved it when abusing his or her authority (I was probably guilty of some over exuberance myself in my career) but physical and verbal abuse of waste and recycling operatives in not acceptable.

You will read from the report that all vehicles will have 360 degree cameras on them later in the year/beginning of next year. This will help both the householder and crews when complaints of missed collections/incidents are made. The investment in these measures is evidence that complaints by both residents and operators are taken seriously.


 This is a major theme for reaching higher recycling targets in the borough. Here, communication is seen as barrier to address and I post a paragraph from the Environment Contract document 2016/17:

Collecting good quality recycling is critical to the success and operating cost of the recycling service. The market for recyclate is extremely volatile and reprocessors are becoming increasingly strict regarding the type and quality of material they will accept.

Unwanted items and material are classified as contamination and will be rejected by the reprocessor, therefore unwanted materials need to be removed from the recycling process and treated or disposed of by other means. This adds to the processing costs. It is therefore important we (Solihull) make the recycling service as easy to understand as possible and to provide residents with the information that they need to participate fully in the service.

As part of this on-going campaign we intend to positively reinforce what we can accept as part of the recycling service by placing a sticker on all residents bins with details of what we can accept as part of the recycling scheme. We will also be targeting areas where there are reports of repeated contamination and will be working with the residents to help them recycle the right items.

We will also be rebranding our contamination hangers using the strap line ‘If in doubt keep it out’; we hope that these approaches combined will enable us to sustain low levels of contamination for recycling.




Your recycling should still be loose in your bin so that it will fall out easily when it’s emptied.

newspapers, magazines, telephone directories, catalogues, junk mail, envelopes, greeting cards, shredded paper (please place inside a used envelope or wrap in newspaper), cardboard food boxes and egg boxes, toilet or kitchen inner cardboard rolls, corrugated card, food and drink cartons such as juice, milk and soup, household plastics such as drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, cleaning bottles, make-up cleanser bottles and washing up liquid bottles, food and drink cans/tins, metal caps and lids, food trays and tubs (e.g. fruit punnets, trays from microwave meals), yogurt pots, aerosol cans, clean foil.


 We will not empty bins/sacks which contain the following:

  • plastic carrier bags
  • newspaper supplements still in plastic packaging
  • crisp packets/sweet wrappers
  • cellophane/bubble wrap
  • polystyrene
  • plant pots
  • food
  • glass
  • tissues and kitchen roll
  • household waste
  • cards with glitter or foil
  • nappies
  • metal i.e. cutlery or paint tins
  • hard plastics i.e. CDs, DVDs, toys or sweet tubs
  • clothes or textiles
  • wallpaper
  • plastic film
  • food pouches (e.g. pet food pouches)  



 Your green waste should not be compacted so that it will fall out easily when it’s emptied. You can recycle the following items in your green wheelie bin:

  • lawn clippings
  • small branches
  • prunings
  • spent flowers
  • leaves
  • windfall fruit, cones, seeds
  • weeds

The following items should not be placed in the Green recycling bin:

•soil and turf

•bricks and rubble

•large branches and tree stumps

•food, kitchen waste

•vegetable or fruit peelings

•animal faeces

•plastic bags or sacks

•plant pots, trays, hanging baskets

•pesticides, weed killer

• ash




  • The aim of the guide is to provide clarity about what you can expect from the waste and recycling service and also what you can do to help us to deliver a quality service.
  • This guide brings together all of the policies which govern how we manage the collection of refuse, recycling and garden waste in Solihull. It also provides information regarding the provision of services at Bickenhill Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Below are listed websites that will, hopefully, explain recycling here in Solihull:

Recycling A to Z:


A useful site you may wish to look at:

Where does my Green Waste Go? This site helps explain where your waste goes:

And, for the really curious this document is the Waste Management Strategy for Solihull 2010 – 2020:  including the Mid-point Update (2015).







  1. Thanks Ken. On a related note, can I ask what’s happened to all the glass recycling bins at (for example) Tesco and Shelley farm.They seem to have been removed? Is this a policy decision? Thank you.

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