Steptoe council's rag-and-bone man plan

Steptoe lives in south Norfolk - and he's looking for a partner!Environment councillors this week voted to try out a modern version of the rag-and-bone tradition in a bid to persuade people to go greener.

Steptoe lives in south Norfolk - and he's looking for a partner!

Environment councillors this week voted to try out a modern version of the rag-and-bone tradition in a bid to persuade people to go greener.

So enthusiastic were the decision makers that, after they listened to South Norfolk Council officers outlining their proposals, they voted for an immediate trial, with a report on the table in time for their next meeting in February.

“But it's early days, and we need to find a willing partner out there,” said a council spokesman yesterday.

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The plan is for occasional high profile collections in selected towns and villages in a bid to improve their recycling rates.

Crews will collect materials such as books, small electrical items, plant pots, crockery and cardboard from community collection points at specified dates and times.

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South Norfolk Council officers have drawn their inspiration from the role made famous in the classic British TV comedy Steptoe and Son as part of a drive to get Best In Recycling status. But rather than a horse and cart, the council is likely to use strategically placed skips.

Committee chairman Keith Weeks commented yesterday: "It is just a concept at the moment but we think something like this is worthwhile trying.

"One of the options is that we put a large skip in an obvious place where it is easily accessible to people and advertise the fact as well as advise on suitable kinds of items.

"Crockery is one of the items which surprised me. I am assured it is viable for recycling. Books of course would be a good one, and I think at the same time we would encourage people to bring bottles. There still a few people who don't get them to a bottle bank and put them out with their general rubbish which is a pity."

South Norfolk currently has a recycling rate of 38.48pc having brought in green recycling bins between 2002 and 2006 to work alongside mini recycling centres and a recent brown bin garden waste scheme.

Figures for 2006/7 placed south Norfolk as the 17th best performer for dry recyclables and 147th for combined composting and recycling rates. But the council is determined to improve its rates further, which is why officers have been looking at other ways to get people recycling.

As well as the rag and bone collections officers are also looking into introducing pilot facilities where people can recycle “novel materials” including toys and bras.

A committee report given to councillors at Monday's meeting the initiative would require close co-operation with parish and town councils.

David Bills, South Norfolk Council's cabinet member for environment, health, recycling and safety, said: “People have got used to the twice weekly collections now, so we wanted to look at doing something a bit different, so we have come up with three or four ideas.

“We looked at the old concept of rag and bone men to see if we could draw on that. The idea is that we would tell people in advance what we would be collecting. Whatever we collected would be recycled using one of our normal methods, such as giving them to a charity or a company which re-uses them.”

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