Residents in Peterborough have been left fuming after stickers labelling them ‘wasters’ were put on their bins.
The red stickers with a ‘frown face’ emoji, along with the word ‘waster’ have been placed on all black bins in Orton Malbourne and Sugar Way in an effort to encourage people to recycle.
The stickers are a pilot scheme by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) - but residents were angered when they saw the artwork.
Mark Mason, who lives on the Sugar Way estate said: “I came home from doing some work and noticed a big red sticker with the word waster on my black bin.
“Waster is a derogatory word and I found it most insulting.
“Whoever placed the stickers on the bins had no idea how much our household recycle. It has upset numerous residents on Sugar Way.”
Connor Grove added: “I think that having a sticker which actually tells you what to recycle is far better then annoying people who have just come home from work by calling everyone Wasters. It’s quite insulting considering we recycle as much as we are allowed to recycle.”
Fletton and Woodston ward councillor, Andy Coles said: “I have had a number of comments from local people who were very unhappy with this pr stunt. I had been given notice of this trial but not on how it would be rolled out in the ward. If I had been consulted on what exactly had been proposed in the Sugar Way Estate and nearby streets in Woodston I would have objected to the use of this particular sticker.
“I have taken up the residents’ complaints with our officers who now appreciate that the way this experiment was handled could have been better and apologise for the offence that was caused.
“I try to act on the principle that it is never a good idea to insult your audience. I think WRAP will have learned this valuable lesson from the feedback Woodston residents have given them.”
Cllr Julie Howell, who represents the Green Party for neighbouring Orton Waterville, said the scheme made her angry.
She said she would oppose any future plans to extend the scheme and said: “While it’s important that we recycle as much as we can I do not agree that public humiliation is the way to go about it. I’m sure we can all come up with plenty of examples of instances where the council has been wasteful with public resources. Perhaps we should stick a giant ‘waster’ sticker on the town hall. I appreciate all the efforts residents of Waterville ward make to use the kerb-side recycling services appropriately and you’re doing an amazing job of reporting and preventing fly-tipping too.
Next week green stickers will be placed on the green recycling bins in the area with a smiley face emoji and the word ‘recycler.’
More traditional images are being tested in the Castor, Ailsworth and Hampton areas, with a green sticker including an arrow and the word ‘recycling’ for the green bins, and an image of a bin lorry and the word ‘rubbish’ on a red sticker for black bins.
A spokesman for Peterborough City Council, who are working with WRAP said: “We apologise to residents for any offence the emoji bin sticker may have caused - and we appreciate we should have communicated better with residents and local councillors.
“The frown emoji sticker now on bins in Orton Malbourne and Sugar Way is part of an important national campaign by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) to test new ideas to increase recycling with city residents.
“It has been put on black bins, along with a leaflet through doors, to help communities think twice about what they could recycle. Stickers on green bins will be sent out next week.
“Letters about this recycling project were sent to ward councillors last week to inform them of the activity. Only 7,000 houses will take part in this test and waste recycling levels will be monitored over the next six months.
“More traditional images are being tested in the Castor, Ailsworth and Hampton areas.
“We have been working with WRAP on this campaign, but we are not funding it.
“All feedback will reviewed to make improvements to the campaign when it is considered for roll out nationally.”
A spokesman for WRAP said: “The stickers are being used by Peterborough City Council and WRAP’s Recycle Now campaign as part of a trial of new behaviour change approaches.
“Most people in Peterborough recycle; however there are still improvements that can be made to ensure that all recyclable items are collected. “The trial is testing methods which will help residents to remember to put the right things in the right bins. The trial is being closely monitored and any feedback from residents will help inform how the approach is potentially implemented following the trial stage.
“Recycle Now is sorry for any offence that may be caused by the stickers. The stickers were designed as an engaging approach to encourage recycling by using smiley face ‘recycler’ stickers on recycling bins, and unhappy face ‘waster’ sticker on residual waste bins.
“The term ‘waster’ was not intended to be a negative reflection on the resident, but a reminder that any waste placed in that bin will go to landfill or for energy from waste.
“Stickers were placed on all residents’ bins within a small trial collection area in conjunction with an information letter on what can and cannot be recycled.
“The stickers are designed to remain on the bin and have been used based on their staying power – therefore reducing the volume of material and resources required going forward. They are waterproof and will stay on the bin unless the resident chooses to remove it, and as such were designed to be a consistent message for residents reminding them to recycle as much as possible.”
The WRAP spokesman said they could not confirm how much the project was costing as it was ‘part of a wider contract.’
The spokesman did not confirm if the stickers were recyclable or not.