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European trend to recycling leads to mass shortage of wheelie bins in UK

First the sun-loungers, now colour-coded wheelie bins. The Germans and eastern Europeans are apparently responsible for a mass British shortage of the mobile plastic rubbish receptacle.

Councils up and down the country have been informing rate payers that replacement wheelie bins and wheelie bins for new homes will not be available for months to come.

Rumours are circulating that a bin factory fire, variously said to be in Poland, France and England, has caused the huge shortage.

A surge in demand for recycling in countries including Poland, Estonia and Germany has led to enormous orders being placed for bins, leading to scarcity in Britain.

In Derbyshire, thousands of households await the arrival of recycling bins and have been meanwhile told to stack their rubbish in black bags in the garden, inviting foxes and fly littering. In Lancashire, families moving into new homes face an eight-month wait. Sixty are stolen every week, according to local media in Preston. Lewisham council in south-east London has suggested householders ask their neighbours to share bins until November, at least. "Unfortunately, the shortage of bins is affecting the whole of the UK, and not just Lewisham," said local councillor Susan Wise.

Households in South Oxfordshire will have to wait three months to receive brown bins for garden waste.

Robert Bull, managing director of internet retailer wheeliebins.com, which will supply anything from one to 100,000 bins, said: "It is an absolute nightmare at the moment because we are not getting any through whatsoever.

It's been getting steadily worse since May and supply has come to a virtual standstill, even for us, and we are supposed to be priority customers for the factories."

"Factories are working on full production but the bins are being diverted to eastern Europe, where recycling campaigns are being set up."