It’s hot, it’s August and the higher temperatures inevitably lead to fresh fruit and veg going off quickly if damaged and the rubbish bins emitting an unpleasant odour. However please be aware that there are restrictions on the times that you can put rubbish in bins and heafty fines for those who disobey!!!!




Year-round residents will be aware of the laws relating to rubbish disposal and are probably able to read the signs on bins which generally state that the disposal of rubbish before 9pm is illegal, but visitors from abroad may well be unaware that municipal by-laws in the hotter areas of Spain generally prohibit the disposal of rubbish during the hotter hours of the day, the intention being to limit the inconvenience to residents who live near to the bins, and are subjected to flies and unpleasant odours during the warmer months.

Certainly in most of the Costa Cálida bags may not be deposited in bins before 9pm, and substantial fines are imposed should an individual be caught by the authorities ignoring the law.

The threat of a fine is not just hot air and complaints have been received in the MT office on previous occasions by appalled visitors and residents who have been clobbered by the forces of law and order when putting rubbish in the bins too early, and although the measure might be seen as a typical piece of draconian bureaucracy, is in fact a very necessary rule, especially in the heat of summer. The climate here means that bins can smell revolting in 40 degrees of heat, and in order for them to be cleaned properly they need to be empty during the day.

While every resident will, naturally, squeal in protest that they witness an endless stream of native residents abusing the bin law prior to 9pm, it really isn´t worth the risk………..although is excessively irritating for those of us who live several kilometres from the nearest bin and resent having to drive out under the cover of darkness to find one, rather than taking the rubbish at the same time as doing the shopping.

The Ed was given a bin law baptism of fire very early on in her “Real Spain Experience” after deciding the best way to learn Spanish was to undertake complete immersion and moving into a town house in a north-west Murcian hilltop town.

Within a minute of depositing a bag of rubbish in the bin there was a knock at the door, and the bag was sitting on the step outside with no sign of life in the street.

Attributing the situation to pranksters, the bag was returned to the bin and within a short time the knock on the door echoed through the house once again and the bag re-appeared mysteriously on the front door step.

Determined to catch the perpetrators, the Ed once again deposited the rubbish bag and crouched behind the door to wait for the third knock.

When it came, the door was wrenched open and on the doorstep was a black-clad elderly lady, who shot off an incomprehensible stream of earnest Spanish, the only element of which was cohesive, being the bam…bam…bam simulation of shooting a gun with her walking stick, before she thrust the bag back and disappeared into the house next door.

Having got the message that putting rubbish in the bin was a misdemeanour for which the firing squad was an obvious punishment, the Ed retreated back inside, realising that indeed much remained to be learned about Spanish customs and practices, and kept the offending bag inside until the clunk of the bin lid and shadows in the street later that evening appeared to indicate that the firing squads relaxed their vigilance after nightfall and it was safe to make a trip to the bin.

It was months later when the Ed had got past the initial stumbling block of the local accent and had started to understand that Murcians ate their s’s, the phrase “Bondiyu” actually being north Murciano for “Buenos días” and had mastered sufficient Spanish for a walk with another neighbour who unexpectedly announced that we should drive to the woods walk instead of following the habitual route through the urban town.

She pointed out a round rock set into a rough stone wall and explained that the brother of the elderly neighbour had been shot for hiding olive oil in this stone wall during the hungry years of the Civil War, the stone a simple and subtle tribute erected by his family to remember him.

The memory of the horror endured by the family had never left my neighbour and she was terrified of the authorities “to the point of madness” it was explained, hence her concern for my safety (and hers!) when committing an illegal act next to her home.

Municipal by-laws today vary considerably from one municipality to another, and will be different for other areas of Spain, but it’s always worth finding out what the local laws are in your own municipality, as although putting a bag of rubbish in the bin outside of the specified hours will not bring in a firing squad, it is illegal and can result in a nasty fine.(150 to 750 euros are the figures quoted on a couple of local council by-laws on the Murcian coastline, although of course, this varies from municipality to municipality across Spain)

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