B. B. Baggs, F. von Veelie Bin Laden, Ron Leavit, Univ. Retford Faculty of Garbopsychology


Background to the Study

Having to phone Lincoln City Council every week to get the dustmen to return for the uncollected rubbish is a waste of time.

If your house happens to overlook the spot where you and your neighbours pile up bin bags the night before it can be an inexplicable shock to open your front door to find half of it still there after Cory workers have sifted it. If it happens every week, questions arise.


Anecdotal Evidence

Rumours of rules on forbidden rubbish include: anything not in a bin bag, anything not in a bin bag advertising Lincoln City Council, anything in a bag which is not black, and bags tied with only a single knot.

Readers with piles of unsuitable rubbish of their own will know that the official version, that only garden rubbish cannot be put out, is at odds with the anecdotal evidence.

Certain items do not particularly benefit from being in a bin bag. Others don't fit. Using a bag can conceal sharp edges and corners. Using a bin bag for the sake of it is sometimes, well, a waste.

On the other hand, if the City's proprietary bin bags are being used in an attempt to measure or limit rubbish collection volumes, perhaps our senses are deceiving us.  What the Council says must of course be true.  Any rubbish in the right model of correctly tied bin bag will always be removed.

Amidst this confusion, a scientific experiment was required to study the behaviour of dustmen. As my neighbours and I always seem to be unlucky, it was hoped the study would suggest improvements which could be made to our rubbish to increase its acceptability.

The research was also to determine if special bin bags might have greater commercial value, and to test the various stories going about.


Materials and Method

For the test rubbish we prepared three aquilots of experimental rubbish, designated R1, R2 and R3, as follows:

R1 was an unsealed transparent bag, about 1 metre high, containing polystyrene and other lightweight plastic waste – the "wrongly coloured, wrongly bagged, not tied up but light as a feather rubbish."

R2 was a bunch of same-sized large (approx. 1 square metre) corrugated sandwich cardboard, easy to handle, until you try to get it into a bin bag – the "too big, not bagged or tied but light as a feather rubbish."

R3 was a heavy-duty computer printer in a black Lincoln City Council bin bag tied in a double knot and weighing about 22 kilograms – the "correctly presented low volume high value rubbish with an advert on the bag."

The control rubbish for the test was provided by households in the area, consisting of whatever bin bags they could get hold of, tied up tightly to make sure the cat opens them at the bottom.

Standard fluoridated Cory Environmental dustmen were observed. The subjects were unaware of the experiment.  Measurements were taken before and after their round.



R1 and R2 disappeared in accordance with everyone's expectations.

R3 was left in the street. The experimental subjects disappeared for 7 days. Several bags of control rubbish were also left behind.



Rubbish Rejection Syndrome (RRS) in Cory dustmen shows no correlation with rubbish size, shape, bag type, bag colour, or knotting.

Though the cause of RRS remains obscure, there may be an inverse relationship between the incidence of RRS and the expensiveness of the rubbish, in this case a printer which originally cost 880. Possibly the subjects thought R3 was too good to chuck.

However, in a supplementary experiment R3 and the uncollected control rubbish were moved to a traffic island on a busy main road, outside a surgery. Five hours later R3 had been moved to the side of the road.

In 24 hours R3 was completely gone. This would appear to contradict the results of the earlier test, suggesting instead that RRS diminishes as the distance from my front door increases.

Clearly a lot of research remains to be done. For instance, could there be any relevant criteria among the 22,500 results produced by an Internet search for documents containing the word "fluoride" and the phrase "muscle weakness"?

Garbopsychology is in its infancy, and further tests are needed. Unfluoridated dustmen from Nottingham or Skegness could be given a round in Lincoln to see if they produce more consistent results.

But hurry. Time is running out and there may soon be no one to use as controls.