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A council has apologised for insulting residents in a Cambridgeshire city by calling them “WASTERS.”

Residents in Peterborough were furious after red stickers with a frown face emoji and the word WASTER were put on their black bins. The stickers were put on all black bins in Orton Malbourne and Sugar Way estate as part of a pilot scheme by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) to encourage people to recycle. But many residents complained the word “waster” was derogatory and insulting and said there were better ways to get people to recycle.

Resident Helen Sparrol said: “The stickers have upset a lot of people because the word waster is really insulting. It was awful to come home and find the sticker on my bin.”

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.”

He said more traditional images were being tested in the Castor, Ailsworth and Hampton areas. He said they had been working with WRAP on this campaign, but were not funding it and added: “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.”

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The Daily Telegraph