A wheelie big idea for MK as pink bags sent to scrap heap

Council leader Pete Marland on the front page of the MK Citizen
Council leader Pete Marland on the front page of the MK Citizen

A £60million budget cut that threatens to send council services to the scrap heap could see wheelie bins being rolled-out across the city.

Pink sacks – and the yearly £650,000 bill – may soon be a thing of the past as councillors plot cheaper ways to collect waste and recycling.

Council leader Pete Marland envisages either wheelie bins or an “IKEA-type” re-usable bag with a weight inside that will be collected by binmen – and promptly returned.

It follows fears that households are abusing the system following the supermarkets’ move to charge 5p for plastic bags.

Mr Marland said: “Because pink sacks are not charged for, people think they are ‘free’ - this isn’t the case.

“It is not feasible or sustainable to spend that level of money on providing one-use pink sacks. We can spend it smarter.”

In a report by the budget scrutiny committee this week, councillors voiced concerns that the cost of collecting bins or bags could negate any savings they may bring.

However, given the potential savings, they agreed wheelie bins or reusable bags should be trialled– although they said they were “hesitant” about the former.

Mr Marland added: “There are no plans to move towards a fortnightly collection so I don’t want people to panic.

“Most other places in the country have collections once a week, but the difference is the sack is returned to the household and re-used.”

A total of 12 million sacks are used in MK every year –with 51 pick-up points across the city if households use more than the roll of 80 delivered to them.

But with more and more people caught stocking up unnecessarily, a shortage in pink sacks caused chaos earlier this year.

Many pick-up points even pulled out from the scheme after customers seeking pink sacks were abusive to staff.

> See page 13 to find out more about the council’s “biggest ever” budget challenge that could put vital public services at risk.