Minor British Institutions: The wheelie bin

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The Independent Online

Waste bins on wheels are a German invention, but the British have given them a typically idiosyncratic spin since they were introduced here some 30 years ago.

Their potential for disposing of corpses was soon recognised, a regrettable but continuing practice. They are now, too, the must-have accessory in thefts of lead, increasingly popular as barricades, and often pushed for charity.

Few will have missed the case of the woman earlier this year caught on CCTV placing a live cat inside one. Early on, there were cases of unwary householders reaching down inside and ending up head first inside, legs waving for help.

There are about 30 million of them: lately, they have become a symbol in Britain's struggle between authority and the individual.

Emptying frequency, compulsory recycling, improperly positioned and closed bins: rage abounds. Some say it's caused by our species confronting its inexcusable profligacy. All is now under Government review.