HOUSEHOLDERS who put out their recycling bins on time will receive a text message on their mobile phones to congratulate them.

More than £100,000 of government money is being spent on the Bolton Council scheme, which is designed to improve recycling rates in the borough.

It has been praised as innovative by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), which has paid the scheme, but labelled “patronising” by critics.

The council believes the project will save money in the long run.

The council’s executive member for the Environment, Cllr Elaine Sherrington, also rejected suggestions that the scheme was “preaching to the converted”.

She said: “This has the potential to make a real difference to the borough’s recycling rates, and will encourage a lot of people who aren’t currently recycling to do so.

“The evidence from previous studies shows that this sort of scheme can go a long way to changing behaviour both individually and in a community.”

Some residents will also get a text or email the day before collections to remind them to put their bins out.

The £110,000 funding is around a fifth of what was available from a national pot and is thought of as a significant coup by the council, considering more than 70 local authorities applied for a share of £500,000 from DEFRA.

As well as reminders and positive reinforcement, people will also be sent information by text about what can and cannot be recycled as well as “interesting recycling facts”.

Only people who agree to the scheme will receive the texts.

Those who sign up for “bin texts” will be given a unique number for their bin and refuse collectors will then log each time their recycling bins are put out.

The borough-wide project will send texts or emails to residents who regularly put out their recycling bins on the right day.

Robert Oxley, of the Taxpayers Alliance said: “It’s great to see councils working to make recycling simpler, but it needn’t cost a small fortune. Ensuring information about collection dates is easily available is a positive way to encourage recycling but it’s a little patronising to send congratulatory messages."

The council’s recycling rate currently stands at about 30 per cent. Officers are looking to increase that to 40 per cent.

Without a concerted effort to reduce waste and drive up recycling rates, disposal costs could increase by £7 million to £23 million by 2015/16, the council said.

A DEFRA spokesman said: “More than half of us would recycle more if we were given a reward, or were recognised and thanked for our effort.”