Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, writes about the free-of-charge service that gives people a chance to dispose of bulky and unwanted items…
As part of the effort to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping which harms communities and neighbourhoods across the city, we launched our award-winning Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) service in the summer of 2021.
Early results have been very encouraging, with fly-tipping reports falling 11 per cent during the first year of the service’s operation. But when this was launched, who could have predicted the global and national events that have triggered a cost of living crisis in recent months?
Regardless of how dire the economic situation is, it has always been tempting to utilise the services of rogue “man with a van” type operations that offer to take whatever waste you have away for a very small fee.
Sadly though, if something seems too good to be true, it normally is just that.
From many years of experience, we know that far too often these bargain basement waste removal firms are operated by unlicensed individuals who have no lawful way to dispose of the waste that has been collected, the end result being a pile of dumped waste in an alleyway, lay-by or secluded road in our city, harming our shared environment.
We know the terrible situation faced by many of being unable to heat their homes or not being sure if their families will be able to eat are the big concern and priority right now.
So, when it comes to disposing of waste, we are continuing to offer our free-of-charge MHRC service across all 69 wards of the city.
The MHRCs visit four areas of the city every day, offering a simple, convenient, way to lawfully dispose of waste. Each MHRC has two vehicles: a specially designed lorry with multiple compartments for recycling and an open-backed refuse collection vehicle for waste which cannot be recycled or reused.
Visits are publicised in advance in a number of ways including by local councillors to their communities directly, on community Facebook groups and via council channels such as Twitter, so do make sure you are following such pages wherever possible. We’re looking at how we improve on this in the coming weeks, by publicising the visits as far in advance as possible and already update information on those coming weeks on a dedicated webpage.
And when the MHRC comes to your area, it is simply a case of turning up during its advertised operating hours with whatever you need to dispose of, providing it is one of the waste types we currently accept, as listed on the council’s website.
Our friendly crews will let you know which wagon (or compartment of the wagon) to use. Turn up, unload the waste, and leave. But as just mentioned, please only bring items when the crew is on site – not before or after the scheduled times.
Items that have a further future use are sent to the Community Reuse facility that operates out of the traditional Tyseley HRC site, which sells recovered items at bargain prices. If there is something you need for your house, it is well worth making a visit there if you can or to The ReUsers – a similar project which has a base next to the traditional HRC in Sutton Coldfield.
Of course, if you miss a local MHRC visit, our network of “static” Household Recycling Centres are still in operation – and they also remain free to use, with a booking system in place to offer certainty around visit times and access.
We know the MHRC service isn’t the solution to everyone’s waste disposal needs, and it realistically never could be. But it is important to note that the old system of special street collections, where on designated days our crews went door to door in every street to pick up bulky items and other waste, was not financially sustainable.
Given the council has lost 60 per cent of its Government funding in the last decade it was simply not a viable service within the resources available to the city and our communities. Now we also face the cost of living crisis too, we have to deliver something within our means that meets the needs of people as far as possible.
The MHRC service is just that – and is something we are committed to providing in the coming years.
We’re not resting on our laurels and are looking at how we expand the range of waste types that can be taken and recycled at the MHRCs and will communicate any improvements as soon as they are confirmed.
And in parallel to this we are working hard to improve the quality and reliability of our regular bin collections, in recognition of this being one of the few universal services used by everyone in Birmingham.
So, the message is clear. When it comes to disposing of waste, we are here to help. We have free-of-charge services on offer and will do everything we can to protect our shared environment and Keep Brum Tidy.
The next collection in the JQ area is on Great King Street B19 3AS between 7.00am and 12noon.