Missing Exeter City Council wheelie bin found in Hungary
Council bosses were left scratching their heads after receiving a call to say one of its abandoned rubbish bins had been located – in Hungary.
How the large wheeled bin got to the far-flung corner of Europe is a mystery.
But they are working on the theory that a tradesman may have left Exeter with the bin full of tools before driving east.
The council has also revealed it has received some strange requests for bins – including from America. It is thought the request was mistakenly made from a resident living in the town of Exeter, New Hampshire, in the USA.
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But for Robert Norley, the city's assistant director for environment, missing wheeled bins is a serious subject – and an expensive problem. He revealed that almost 700 go missing every year.
The authority currently spends about £100,000 on new and replacement bins every year. Mr Norley said: "The bins are always the property of the city council, but perhaps some people are not aware of that. "People who move house sometimes take them with them, and we have reports of 695 a year going missing.
"Sometimes people use them to wheelbarrow things around, but we want to discourage this and encourage people instead to really look after their bins. We would recommend that people paint the number of their house on the bin so that it is easier to keep track of."
He said some householders with a soft spot for the iconic plastic containers have taken extreme measures to protect them. "We had one person who built a little fence around the area where he kept his bin and then painted the bin like a fence, so that it was camouflaged," he said.
"We did not have a problem with this – it was always presented properly for collection." Others have painted flowers on them and stickers are common. But anyone thinking of drafting in a larger bin, which has not been supplied by the council, to collect their rubbish in should think again. Mr Norley said: "We received reports of one of the larger four-wheeled bins, 1,100 litres, blocking an alley.
"When we investigated we discovered it wasn't a city council bin but that of a private company which a family had acquired to keep logs in for their fire. "They had wheeled it home but then found that it didn't fit through their back gate. It's strange what some people want to use their wheelie bins for."