Help us in the fight against waste

Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, writes in today's Edinburgh Evening News about the challenges of dealing with the city's waste.

We all want Edinburgh to be clean and how we deal with waste comes down to everyone taking pride in our fantastic city.

No one is more aware than myself that the city faces major challenges in this area not least during the busy summer months when the city’s population doubles in size.

As a Council we are committed to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ and every year we carry out over 26 million waste collections, the vast majority of which happen without any issue. However it is only right we constantly review and make improvements to our services as we have done in recent years.

There has been increased recycling, investment in new vehicles, daily bin collections, communal bins extended throughout the city, the roll out of food waste collections, new technology such as sensors to litter bins to monitor how full they are and removing 80% of trade waste bins off the street.

Some of the biggest challenges facing us include flytipping and trade waste which has a massive impact on the Council doing our waste collection job properly. Our communal bins are not designed for large goods and the practice of discarding mattresses and other large items in the street is simply unacceptable.

I want to see the strongest possible action taken against these irresponsible people and that’s where the public can play an important role. Just last week a resident contacted us about communal bins in my ward being full of builders’ rubble which stopped people using them. This cost the taxpayer considerable expense as we had to use a different vehicle to take the bins to a depot to dispose of the rubble as required by law.

A new enforcement section has been set up to ensure that all businesses have a trade waste certificate as required. Initial figures are quite disturbing as they show that only six of the first 35 businesses contacted appeared to have the required certificate. This raises the question of where the waste produced by these businesses is going. The public are probably unaware that the vast majority of trade waste bins are the responsibility of the businesses themselves and not the Council.

Obviously I recognise that we have particular hotspots in the city where we have recurring problems with overflowing communal bins with additional bags being placed beside them and we will be looking at these locations to see if additional collections or providing more bins to meet residents’ needs are required.

Sometimes however simple solutions can make a big difference. Recently at the West End we were able to resite some communal bins which solved the issue of them being continually full.

We also need to consider what improvements are needed to both our web based and call centre reporting systems to make them as easy to use as possible and to ensure that the processes for dealing with service requests are as efficient as we can make them.

I hope that this gives a flavour of how we are tackling waste in our Capital city and I would like to stress that we need the public’s support to ensure that Edinburgh is kept as clean as possible.

Hopefully we can all do our bit and continue to allow residents and visitors alike to be proud of our wonderful Capital city.

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