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The new charter: it’s all rubbish really! 

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When I first moved to Puerto, I have to say I found the town’s whole approach to rubbish collection quite refreshing, not in the literal sense of course, especially in the summer.

Having coped with three different coloured wheelie bins and assorted containers and a complicated spreads-heet to show which bin goes out on which day, the communal bins in the street seemed such a good idea.

Just put your rubbish in and it disappeared overnight, simple. Large items were stacked alongside and they went the same way, unless they proved useful to somebody else, fair enough, recycling in it rawest form. It can’t get much better than that, can it?

Our town council, however, are not happy. For years, in the town centre, they have been pushing through a campaign to put the wheelie bins underground, whenever funds are available that is, so a long and slow process.

Rubbish is unsightly is their rationale and tourists and visitors to the town shouldn’t have to see it, even though they produce a fair proportion of it. We all do, we are a throwaway society.

A great idea, out of sight is out of my mind, even with the additional costs associated with the empting of these bins, I would be in favour of it, if only it worked.

Access to these bins, for depositors, is via a small stainless steel garbage chute. No not even that, it is more of a revolving door where you put your ‘neat little’ rubbish bag inside, close the door and when you open it again, hey presto, it has disappeared.

Of course, there lies the problem; rubbish does not always come in conveniently sized and shaped packages, so what do town centre residents and shopkeepers do with their more bulky rubbish?  Why, stack them alongside, of course. Sort of defeats the whole point of the exercise, doesn’t it?

I only mention this because the campaign goes on relentlessly; another set of bins is in the slow process of going underground, regardless. No not quite without regard. Changes are afoot, in fact they have been in place for a few months, yet I doubt if most people are aware of them.

In December, the council published a whole swath of new rules and regulations for rubbish. Or should that be new rubbish rules and regulations? I know which I think more appropriate but I will let you make up your own minds. They are available as a pdf from the council’s website, but hey, don’t print them off, save a tree, it is 38 pages long. That’s a lot of talk about rubbish, whichever order you put the words in.

I won’t bore you with all the details; it doesn’t make good bedtime reading.As always there is a lot of waffle and things are repeated, so what follows is a brief summary of what I think are the more relevant points.

The theme or slogan for these changes is ‘we all must work together to make Puerto a cleaner town’, or at least that is my interpretation of it. Political speak for ‘we are not going to budge on this, it is you who have to change’. Again this is my own opinion. Don’t think these changes apply just to the town centre; they are across the board and affect even those of us who are still able to toss our rubbish with ease into a full sized bin.

The biggest change is to the times you can put your rubbish out, oh yes there are times and different times for different kinds of rubbish, I feel a spreadsheet moment coming on.

Organic rubbish, that’s kitchen waste, and this applies to everyone, both domestic and commercial, should only be placed in the bins between the hours of 17.00 and 20.00, Monday to Friday, between 12.00 and 15.00 on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. Timings are, of course, aimed to coincide with collections. So it seems busy restaurants should sit on their waste for two days over the weekend. Well not sit it, that is just an expression, imagine Google translate trying to cope with that one, I should be clearer. It means their kitchen waste will fester and smell in their kitchen instead of doing the same thing outside in the bin where it should be. Health and hygiene Inspectors please be aware.

Recycling products are not so encumbered by time restrictions. They are collected by third party companies who are not so heavily influenced by the council, so you can feel free to visit the bins whenever you like, unless it is glass that it. You will like this one, wait for it. Glass should only be deposited in the recycling bins between the hours of 19.00 and 20.00. Quite a small window of opportunity! The reason for this is to be respectful to your neighbours who might be disturbed by the, plink, plonk, crash, as the bottles fall into the bins. They certainly will be for an hour each evening. So if you see a gathering (there won’t be a queue, they never do) around the green recycling bin, early evening, they will be waiting for the clock to strike 7, to get in quick and beat the curfew.

Garden rubbish is also affected by the change. It should be bagged or tied in bundles weighing no more than 25kgs (Health and Safety). If however, the quantity you have is more than from an average garden, whatever that means, you should ring the given number and they will bring you a skip, so you can load it yourself, of course.

Furniture and bulky items should not be left next to bins. You should ring the same given number (someone is going to be busy) and they will come and collect it from you.

All these rules and regulations are fine, even if some are a bit extreme, but they depend on people’s compliance and it is human nature that some never will. Of course, there is provision in the new rules for that, you knew there would be, and I am talking about fines, you knew there had to be.

Any individual or business found to be guilty of flouting these regulations can expect a fine of between 100 and 750 euros, depending on the severity. How do they mea-sure severity, by the amount of rubbish, perhaps? These fines are mentioned twice in the document, to get they get the message across, no doubt.  In the first instance, they say they want to work with people and not issue fines and in the second they state that 20 businesses have already been fined.

In reality, most of us will be unaffected by these changes. We will still have the wheelie bin out in the street. It will be emptied two or three times a week, garden rubbish will be collected on the appointed day, depending on the mood of the truck crew at any given time, but it will go eventually, as will bulky items too big for the bin. No, those who will be affected most will be people in the town centre, in the high profile areas, and businesses who are always an easy target.

Yes it might be convenient for all parties involved to have collections at night, but if the town centre is a problem and you don’t wish tourists to have sight  of accumulated rubbish, the easy answer, to my simple logic at least, is to have a roving truck throughout the day to clear it up. After all, refuse collection may be a service provided by the council, but it is a service paid for by all of us through the basura.

With more bins going underground this one is not going away. It happens in the UK, so there is no reason why it won’t happen here, the authorities will start going through the bins, when they have nothing better to do, in search of non-compliers.

There you have it, a brief summary of the new Rubbish Charter, sorry, that is the new Charter for Rubbish.