Environment groups back wheelie bins

  • Prevent vermin: trash piled up on Roberts Avenue, Devonshire

Enforced use of trash bins could help combat a rat population explosion on the island, environmental charities said yesterday. Anne Hyde, Keep Bermuda Beautiful executive director, said householders — particularly those who use communal trash areas — should consider buying a bin with a lid “that you can mark with your surname or house number”.

She added: “This investment will help keep rats and other pests to a minimum and the container will help keep trash where it belongs — in the bin — instead of scattered.”

Jonathan Starling, the executive director of Greenrock, added: “In other jurisdictions people use these wheelie bins.

“In fact, often the state provides a standard sized one and if you want additional you pay for it.

“These wheelie bins reduce the risk of vermin and general littering, keeping neighbourhoods cleaner. Perhaps that is a system we should move to.”

They were speaking after the Government’s Vector Control service warned that reports of rats were on the rise in communal trash areas since the switch to once-weekly pick-up and reminded people to put trash out only on collection days.

Mr Starling said a change to wheelie bins, would need alterations to trucks so they could pick up and empty the plastic bins, adding that a switchover would take time.

But he said: “However, we may find it leads to cost-savings in the long term, in terms of littering, vermin and even stress for workers.”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced last month that once-weekly garbage collections would be extended until June 29.

Once-a-week trash collection began in February after garbage collectors ended a work-to-rule over concerns about the lack of staffing and a shortage of trash trucks.

Ms Hyde said the switch to once-weekly trash collection meant garbage was collected on time. She explained: “Previously, trash might have sat out for long periods of time, even days, waiting to be collected because the ageing trash truck fleet experienced many breakdowns and delays.”

She added that the switch to once-a-week collection might be hard to adjust to for some, but people would find it easier if they recognised the benefits.

Ms Hyde said: “The threat of a sharp rise in the rat population and the dangers of rat-borne diseases might just be compelling enough to persuade many of us to change.”

Ms Hyde added families should also make an effort to reduce the amount of trash generated between collections.

She said people should use washable pans and dishes instead of disposable items and make sure they are recycling glass bottles and metal cans.

Ms Hyde added: “Just these two actions might make a big reduction in the amount of trash you put out for the Works & Engineering trucks on collection day. In many other countries trash is collected once a week and everyone is required to use a trash bin.

“They may have grumbled when those regulations first began, but now it is accepted as normal. If these measures help reduce the rat population, can we learn to live with once-a-week collection that gets collected promptly and help encourage our neighbours to buy and use trash bins with lids?”

Ms Hyde said an added incentive would be if stores offered a discount on bins — “a once a year sale, perhaps”.

For more information, or to report a rodent problem, contact Vector Control at 278-5397 or e-mail envhealth@gov.bm