THE COST of replacing nearly 30,000 faulty brown recycling bins in Solihull has been revealed, while 600 residents a month continue to request a switch.
An estimated £400,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on replacing the wheelie bins.
And Solihull Council chiefs confirmed to the Observer they are pursuing legal action to recover the full costs.
These include the costs of the replacement bins, alternative recycling measures as well as the price of labour and administration.
The council hopes the costs will be covered by manufacturer MGB.
As we have reported, a ‘manufacturing fault’ was found in the borough’s 76,000 plastic brown bins distributed in March 2015.
Many residents had to wait months for replacements and last summer slammed the council’s reaction to the debacle.
But waiting times for a replacement – which were at one stage seven weeks – are now being contained at around four, the council says. It says only 28 residents are waiting longer.
Council chiefs believe a fault in the plastic is the source of the problem, although it was previously believed cold weather and transportation could also have exacerbated the issue.
They pledge to respond if there is another sudden increase in faults in the colder winter months.
Cabinet member for the environment Tony Dicicco said: “If for some reason either the existing bins go, or there is an increase in the 600 requests a month we are currently receiving, then we will put an escalation plan in place.
“The trajectory for requests is down and we expect that to continue.
“We are fairly confident that we are going to get the £400,000 back. We will be looking to recover all the costs.
“The contingency plan is not specifically related to the winter period. We believe the bins would have gone anyway regardless of the weather.
“We thank our residents for working with us whilst we have replaced damaged brown bins and ensuring that our recycling rates have not fallen. As a responsible authority, our number one priority is to maintain an excellent service to our residents.
“We are making sure people can continue to recycle while they wait for their replacement bin. Any residents still waiting for a replacement bin can leave their recycling in plastic tubs, their old recycling box if they have it, a hessian/jute bag or cardboard boxes while the weather is dry.”
He also praised council workers and contractors as recycling rates have not dropped.
The bins with particularly large splits have been labelled health and safety risks and marked with stickers while alternative collection methods have been offered by the council.
Green councillor Tim Hodgson said: “I’m really surprised that Solihull Council has 28 people still outside of the 20 working day time frame for a replacement brown bin.
“This is disappointing news when the council claimed it had everything under control and an excess supply at the depot.
“I’m asking that the 28 households who’ve waited are prioritised immediately and will keep monitoring things closely.”