WHEELIE bins are pushing people into creating waste mountains, it has been claimed.

While most parts of Britain are desperate to cut back on rubbish going into the ground, Oxfordshire's wheelie bins seem to be literally encouraging more waste.

Experts say the bins simply pose an irresistible challenge to thousands of householders to fill them - instead of worrying about recycling or reducing waste.

Now the county council is planning a new initiative to place a greater emphasis on recycling.

Both West Oxfordshire and Cherwell provide wheelie bins, with the councils arguing that they are hugely popular with the public.

But while the average Oxfordshire household produces about four-fifths of a tonne of waste a year, in West Oxfordshire the average is well over a tonne.

Becky Jolly, of the county council's waste management department, has no doubts: "The Government's Audit Commission report states that wheelie bins can lead to increases of 25 per cent in waste collected from households. That's an awful lot of extra waste. But John Pickard, environmental operations manager with West Oxfordshire Council, insisted wheelie bins would stay.

He said: "We anticipated an increase in waste. When people have additional capacity they have a tendency to use it. But I do not believe that people go out to collect waste just to fill their bins. Waste is not created out of thin air."

He believed the bins, introduced in 1994, even brought environmental benefits by stopping people throwing waste on to the streets or hedgerows.

Cherwell introduced wheelie bins two years ago. The council's environmental services manager, Geoff Melotti, said: "They don't generate more waste, they just capture it. There are advantages. We now have no problem of sacks lying about streets.

But critics will point out that the two wheelie bin councils also happen to also have poor records when it comes to recycling waste.

Latest Audit Commission figures show West Oxfordshire only recycles a paltry 3.5 per cent of waste and Cherwell just 5.4 per cent - compared to South Oxfordshire's creditable 15 per cent and the Vale of White Horse's 13.3 per cent. Scheme will clean up WHEN it comes to recycling, Oxford badly needs to clean up its act.

While South Oxfordshire recycles 15 per cent of household waste and the Vale of White Horse 13.3 per cent, Oxford manages just 6.4 per cent.

But now the city is to invest £100,000 to try to catch up by funding a pilot scheme this summer, involving doorstep collections of newspaper, glass, cans, plastics and textiles for some households. A mounting problem county can't refuse THEY are giving a lot of thought to rubbish at County Hall these days.

But it's hardly wasted effort as the problems of getting rid of mountains of rubbish from Oxfordshire homes begin to pile up.

For it's no longer just the environment that we have to worry about.

A big rise in Government tax on the burying of waste in gravel pits and landfill sites suggests the county could soon be looking down a very deep financial hole.

Getting rid of the 250,000 tonnes of waste produced by Oxfordshire households each year is becoming a huge drain on council resources.

Now we have the choice of cutting back on rubbish OR key services like libraries and education.

Landfill tax on waste going into dumps already costs Oxfordshire's council tax payers £1.75m a year. But the Government has announced that from next April the tax is to be hiked up to £10 per tonne, adding a likely £750,000 to our bill.

And a new EU directive is likely to limit the kind of waste material that can be put into the ground.

County waste management officer Andrew Woolcock, said: "Oxfordshire is highly dependent on land fill as a means of waste disposal -iIn fact there is no other option at the moment."

But all this could change if the county's new stategy on recycling is a success.

The average Oxfordshire household produces about four-fifths of a tonne of waste a year.

And for Mr Woolcock the main problem is simple."People still think that they have the right to put out as much waste as they want.

"We need to reduce waste by seven per cent every year just to keep costs at present levels." Binmen never call on Jean OXFORDSHIRE has living proof of the virtues of recycling - Jean Saunders.

The retired dentist reckons she does not throw out anything at all. And it has meant the dustmen never need to call at her home in the village of Longcot, near Faringdon.

She reckons it would take her about a year to collect the amount of waste an average household throws out each week.

Mrs Saunders, 51, who shares Pear Tree Cottage with her partner Tom and their two cats, buys loose vegetables, takes her own bag to the butchers, makes her own yoghurt and never buys anything requiring batteries.

She said: "I have one tiny waste paper bin in my kitchen but that has not been emptied since Christmas."

She welcomed news of the Oxford pilot scheme. "Roadside collections are the only acceptable way of collecting quality material. It does not have to be separated and means the material is in better condition and worth more in scrap value.

"But the city is now well behind councils like the Vale. If rural areas can do it, why not a city with a concentrated population?

"As for the landfill levy, I think it is not high enough. Some of the gravel pits used for landfill end up leaking into the ground water. You just can't clean it up later."

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