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Your recycling bin can get you a prison sentence in six simple steps!

Your recycling bin can get you a prison sentence in six simple steps!

How can a simple wheelie bin have you thrown into prison, is it even possible for this to happen? Well as much as its unlikely, your humble wheelie bin could see you with a criminal conviction and or a prison sentence. Yes, maybe the world has actually gone mad, these days you don’t have to be a hardened criminal to earn yourself a criminal record once you fall foul of THE BIN POLICE. 

You might be surprised to learn that there are lots of rules and regulations around the simple wheelie bin, what can be put in it, how much can be put in it, where its stored and when it can be left out in public areas are all covered by strict local council by-laws or regulations.  

Most councils around the UK now have their very own Bin Police, also known as Local Environment Officers or Local Enforcement Officers depending on where you live in the UK. 

The role of these officers is to patrol the local area ensuring that the rules on all things bin related are being adhered to and to bring the weight of the law down on perpetrators who  dare to break the rules. 

Things that are likely to land you into a spot of bother with the bin police are serious breaches of rules such as adding more bags to the bin with the lid open (lids must close completely), leaving your bin out too long, even putting the wrong type of waste in the wrong bin all lines you up for a knock on the door from THE BIN POLICE, a minor infringement and you will be given advice but for a serious law breaker it’s a ticket. 

In some situations, your bin or the use of it can actually get you a FPN (Fixed Penalty Notice), what seems innocent to you may not be dealt with in this way by the enforcement officer, below is Information we found on the government website covering fines and fixed penalties generated by misuse of bins, yes you can get a hefty FINE for breaking bin protocol, how dare you!! 

Information copied from the government website is as follows: 

Government Guidance to Council Boroughs 

Household waste bins: when and how councils may issue fixed penalties 

How and when local authorities can and cannot use fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for householders not complying with waste receptacle requirements. 

When you can issue fixed penalties 

You may issue them when householders do not follow your waste collection rules, and their failure to comply does one of the following: 

causes or is likely to cause a nuisance 

has a negative effect or is likely to have a detrimental effect on local amenities 


You can issue fixed penalties if householders put waste out so it: 

causes an obstruction to neighbours, such as forcing people using wheelchairs or buggies to walk on the road 

restricts access to the pavement or street, for example leaving waste receptacles (bins or bags) out for several days 

is likely to attract vermin like foxes and rats, such as leaving bags or open receptacles out days before a waste collection 

is unsightly (torn bags or overturned receptacles are left out) 

London councils can issue penalty charges instead of fixed penalties – the same rules apply. 

When you cannot issue fixed penalties 

You cannot issue them for minor problems, such as when householders: 

put something in the wrong receptacle by mistake 

forget to close receptacle lids 

leave receptacles out for a few hours before a collection 

How to issue fixed penalties 

You must follow 3 stages. 

1. Written warning 

Write to the householder and explain: 

how they have broken your waste collection rules 

how this has (or is likely to) cause a nuisance or have a negative effect on local amenities 

what they must do and how long they’ve got to fix the problem 

what will happen if they don’t comply · 
If the householder does not comply, you can issue a notice of intent. 

2. Notice of intent 

Your notice of intent must name the householder and tell them: 

they may get a fixed penalty and why 

how much they’ll have to pay 

they have the right to explain why they shouldn’t have to pay the penalty within 28 days of the date on the notice 

3. Final notice 

You can issue a final notice 28 days after the notice of intent. You must consider any responses from the householder before you do this. 

The notice must name the householder and tell them: 

why they have been given a fixed penalty 

how much they must pay, noting the maximum full penalty you can apply is £80 and how they can pay it 

the deadline for the payment 

what happens if they pay the penalty early, for example if there’s a discount 

what happens if they do not pay 

how they can appeal. 

Most people don’t realise that they can be fined if the council decide to enforce these rules upon them, and this is how your wheelie bin or the misuse of it can get you a criminal record or a prison sentence in a six simple steps, 

  1.  Break rules on bin use and receive a FPN (Fixed Penalty Notice) from the council 
  1. Refuse to pay and wait for your day in court. 
  1. FPN (Fixed Penalty Notice sits on your record as a criminal conviction until its settled or refuted by courts. 
  1. Council find you guilty (pretty much a given) and your fine increases due to the discount period expiring and also has added court fees to the bill. 
  1. You refuse to pay, after all its ludicrous that such a mediocre thing has landed you in court etc etc so the fine goes to default and changes to a criminal matter of fine default. 
  1. Your now guilty of defying a court order to pay a fine and a magistrate can decide to either allow you more time to pay the fine or actually make you do a set amount of days in prison to settle the fine.  

On their website the government guidance does encourage the council to adapt “a measured and balanced approach” to enforcement and refrain from giving tenants FPN’s or tickets for minor breaches but leaving this to the discretion of the enforcement officer on the street does not usually bode well as we often see with parking situations. 

So, if you don’t want to fall foul of THE BIN POLICE, and maybe gain yourself a career damaging criminal record or even end up doing “a bit porridge” or “Time behind the door” like a crook you need to be aware of the rules and regulations on the humble wheelie bin and our Six Steps to Prison.  

About Annabelle

Creating Recycling based content is a passion, spreading the Environmental message is a mission.

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