FURIOUS families have lifted the lid on a scheme to 'bug' their bins.
They have discovered Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council is one of a handful of authorities using electronic devices in bins to monitor waste disposal.
They rushed to check their bins over the bank holiday weekend after a national newspaper article highlighted the practice in other parts of the country.
The tiny microchip devices - the size of a 2p piece - were found attached to the inner lids of their green garden waste and silver paper recycling bins.
They carry a unique serial number which can be scanned when the bin is tipped into a refuse lorry - keeping an eye on who is using the bins and the weight of the waste.
Families in Weaver Road in Nantwich were so incensed they unscrewed a pile of the devices to take into Municipal Buildings in Crewe with letters of objection.
On of the residents, Marian Edmondson said: 'A neighbour came round with a Mail on Sunday article he had printed for everyone. We ran out to check our bins and were flabbergasted to find these devices. They talk about 'Big Brother watching you' but this takes the biscuit.'
Daughter Amber 20, a law student, said she would be making it her business to find out if the devices were legal.
She added: 'OK, we have to have ID cards, but bugging bins? That's taking things too far. It's a gross invasion of privacy.'
Residents in St Matthew's Close in Haslington are joining the protest. One said: 'Quite a number of us have found them and we are very angry.
'Presumably the council is thinking of charging us if our rubbish weighs too much or we put the wrong thing in.'
But the council's Direct Services boss David Marren said: 'We have absolutely no plans to charge based on weight.
'Some people may call these devices 'sneaky' but residents registered to the brown bin scheme have known about them for years.
'Now all residents have them in their recycling bins. They are not a secret, but simply there to record which properties recycle.
'There's no point squandering public money by sending recycling promotional material to households which already participate in the important drive to save the environment.'
Areas where the devices are said to be in use also include Peterborough, South Norfolk and Woking.