The public need to be educated more to ensure that all waste is put in bins with closed lids so that rats are not attracted to food waste, claims the director of the National Pest Technician Association (NPTA).
Contrary to some media reports that suggest alternate weekly collections (AWCs) are causing an increase in the rat population, NPTA director Peter Crowden told MRW that there was no direct link between AWCs rats.
However, Crowden said the new NPTA report due out this December will show that there has been an increase in the rat population. He said: The rat population is on the increase and there is far more rubbish being produced and more food waste. We are killing them left, right and centre. But there is no link between AWCs.
If people do not leave waste beside their black bins and their bin lids are secure, rats are not going to be attracted to them.
Crowden said a number of factors had increased the rat population this year including, a wet summer, a lot of food waste on the street, people not using compost bins correctly, and an increase in fly-tipping. He said that people were leaving half eaten kebabs on the street on a Saturday night and food packaging and this was attracting rats.
He added: The public need to be educated a little bit more. I do not blame the councils. Landfill is running out, they have to pay tax and the council needs to do something to tackle the problem.
The Government spend money on drink driving campaigns and on smoking but rubbish is a national problem and they need to deal with it as well.
Composting bins are also attracting rats because people are not using them properly. Not enough information is given to people. People are not putting them on concrete slabs but at the back of the garden on the soil where rats can warm up underneath them. People need to make sure their compost bins are secure and the lid bases are shut.
He said that the rat population currently stands at 70-80 million more than the UK population and early indications from the December report show that this is due to increase. He said the NPTAs 2007 report showed a decrease in the rat population because not all councils gave in data for the survey (See MRW, February 2008).
NPTA chairman Barrie Sheard said that there was a connection between badly organised fortnightly collections where local management was poor and rats, and where councils still collect rubbish in black plastic bin bags.
However, he said: The public has a duty to ensure that wheelie bins are not left with lids even slightly open with extra rubbish beside them.
Image: NPTA chairman Barrie Sheard