Friday, May 25, 2007

In bemused praise of weekly rubbish collections 

I am getting a little puzzled by the arguments over weekly and fortnightly rubbish collections, especially the claim that fortnightly collections increases recycling and decreases the amount of rubbish going into landfill. I really don’t see how this adds up. Could someone explain?

It could be that there are misunderstanding about ‘how things are done’ elsewhere – is it possible to make detailed comparisons between service provisions and costings for those services for various authorities – or would this kind of detail come under the obscuring cloak of ‘commercial confidentiality’? If it is possible I think it would be helpful for the Party to tabulate such findings and make them available to all LibDem council groups, especially ruling groups. We are in danger of damaging each other through Friendly Fire otherwise as some LibDem groups loudly defend going fortnightly and some disagree.

LibDem led Milton Keynes is determined to stick to weekly Collections. To outline Milton Keynes system –

Our contractors collection vehicles have three compartments – a ‘pod’ in the front and two separate collection in at the back. Glass goes into the front pod, recycling materials into the left-hand compartment, other waste into the right-hand compartment.

I really really don’t see who having a lorry collecting recyclables one week and then another collecting non-recyclables the next week is a cheaper system than a lorry collecting both weekly.

The rubbish is put out in sacks not wheelie bins, pink sacks for the recycling, black for general rubbish. Glass is in blue boxes.

A ’point team’ goes out in front of the collection lorry moving the sacks into a few bigger piles. When the lorry comes in, it has to stay in the street a relatively short time. Sacks are much quicker to deal with than wheelie bins (you don’t have to return the bins). So the collection is more efficient.

We have a separate fortnightly Green Waste scheme for the summer months, involving wheelie bins for which you pay an annual fee to the council. This takes in all garden waste (keeps it out of general rubbish) which is composted for local farms. We do also have a policy of supporting home composting.

We are also experimenting with a separate food waste recovery system, Leaflet explaining this in .pdf). The aim is to take out a really substantial part of the 'general waste' stream to landfill.

Finally we have one of the best Materials Recycling Facilities in the UK and this is geared economically to a steady weekly supply. (MRF guide on .pdf available)

From the ‘customers’ point of view weekly collections work hands down for me because:
1 I don’t have to remember whether this is a recycling or non-recycling week;
2 If I happen to be out of town on a collection morning, I only have to store rubbish an extra week. Being away on that morning on fortnightly cycles would require keeping the rubbish a month.
3 When dealing with rubbish I have both bags ‘live’ so it makes sorting out recyclables painless. My experience of fortnightly collections is that I get pessimistic about what is recyclable in ‘general rubbish’ weeks and put too much into the non-recycling bag.

In short – I need some evidence of the superiority of fortnightly collections for recycling efficiency, and citing 'unpublished reports' showing such superiority doesn't do it for me. I really want to know why this is supposed to work.

In South Lanarkshire we have had fortnightly collections for the past 3 years or so. One week, the lorry collects general waste, the next week it collects the recyclables bin containing paper and plastics.

Presumably the argument is that this works out cheaper than one lorry collecting both each week because the binmen have less to do at each house and so move faster.

A smaller van started collecting glass separately once a fortnight about a year ago. The system was introduced by the inevitable pre-STV Labour council, but speaking solely as a resident, it has worked perfectly well as far as I know, and I've never heard anyone complain about it. I was surprised to hear of all the fuss it caused in nearby East Dunbartonshire where the ruling LibDem group was decimated on May 3rd, largely as a result of having introduced fortnightyly collections there, according to the press anyway.
I think we need to serioulsy think this through, especially the libDem councils tha have gone fortnightly, because if we sleepwalk into ding more of this it could be our Poll Tax.
By having a separate recycle collection, the public are encouraged to recycle more of their waste. The amount of waste going to landfill is reduced because the waste that can be recycled is going into the recycle bin.
Different councils have different ways of doing this and different issues are raised. Cherwell, where I live, has had alternate collections for several years and it is very successful.
I think that the main problem in Oxford is not the new scheme but the education of the public on the scheme and how to make it work for them.
Neil Walton thinks the answer is education? I live in a typical Victorian terraced house in Oxford City with no front garden, I have to store 2 weeks rotting rubbish in my back garden bin then take it out after a fortnight for carriage through the house to the front for collection. We have a transient population who have no real commitment to the city as they will will be gone after a few years. Our streets are now pavement rubbish tips with wheelie bins and boxes cluttering up small town gardens. Cherwell is not Oxford City, this scheme may work there but not in an urban area like ours.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com