ABOUT 20 tonnes of food is wasted in Flintshire every single day.
This staggering figure was revealed to me yesterday as I joined Flintshire Council’s Streetscene Department on a bin collection in Hawarden.
I was also given a tour of the recycling plant in Buckley to see the work put in after the collections are made.
Five-days-a-week, 22 bin collection teams – half on waste, half on recycling – are sent out to collect from 1,300 properties.
This operation to collect and recycle from homes across Flintshire continues at the weekend – with 12 collection teams operating on Saturdays.
Russell Broughton, an operations supervisor, took me to meet a four-strong collection team working in the Hawarden area.
Russell, who has worked for Flintshire Council for 14 years, has also spent two years working as a binman.
Talking about the amount of food waste in the county, he said: “It is surprising what people throw away in food. I didn’t realise how big the food waste was in Flintshire.”
He said his worst discovery on a collection was finding a dead cat in a food waste bin.
Workers at the recycling plant also have to be prepared for anything to come along the picking line, where plastics, glass, aluminium and other materials are separated.
Mark Fisher, an agency worker who has worked there since October, said some of the worst things he had come across included a used catheter bag, toilet seats and dirty nappies.
Russell said it is important to educate the public about what should go in the different bins.
During the collection round in Hawarden I spoke with fellow binman Shaun Hughes, 27, about the problems with people not recycling properly.
He said: “The rubbish is mixed all the time. One lady this morning had mixed glass with the plastics. It is just time consuming more than anything – and it is also dangerous because a worker could put their hand in the bin not expecting glass to be in there.”
Russell said over the past five years Flintshire Council has improved from collecting 100 recycling boxes a day outside properties to between 600 and 700.
And the myth that has often been associated with a binman about being in bed by lunch time could not be further from the truth – the Streetscene team are on the streets at the crack of dawn at 7am and don’t finish until 5pm.