Sunday, January 20, 2008

Smells like trouble

Over December Greenwich Council has been telling the proles that the bin and recycling collections are going to change, December is often a time that the council decides to tell people of important things which might effect them but that the council don't want to have to deal with them then asking what's going on, after all a lot of people are busy running up debt. The Compulsory Purchase Order for Love Lane in Woolwich is a prime example of this. Back to Recycling, and the first question is why, from what we've heard the new plans seem to come from central government who want every Council to reach future EU recycling targets. If the Councils don't make the targets they get fined and neighboring Bexley is potentially looking at a £1.5m fine unless it starts to, well clean up its act.

The blue top recycling bins are now supposed to be collected weekly along with green top bins which will have kitchen and garden waste, with all that is left going in black bin bags and collected once every two weeks. Here's the list of things that the Council things will be going into the black bags to be collected once a fortnight;
  • polystyrene
  • disposable nappies
  • clothing and shoes
  • waxed food and beverage cartons
  • batteries and electrical waste
  • pet waste (except waste from small pets on a vegetarian diet)
  • cat litter
  • vacuum cleaner waste
  • sanitary towels and incontinence pads
  • coal and wood embers
  • cotton wool pads/buds and make-up wipes
  • cigarette ends and ashtray contents
  • coat hangers
  • broken crockery
Council List

Would you want to hold onto used Cat Litter, or waxed food cartons for two weeks? Does the list look optimistically short?

Over the years many councils moved towards wheelie bins from black bin bags, one of the reasons was, urban foxes, who like nothing better than to tear these open and see what's inside, so it is likely that once a fortnight your street is going to be littered with the items on the list above and given the road sweeping ability it might hang around for a while.

Green top and Red top bins will be collected once a week and should only have compostable material in them, the idea then is to industrially compost this and use it to power the council's truck fleet using a new processing plant. Now where's this plant going to go, well where does the council normally dump stuff, yep, Thamesmead.

If this is the first that you've heard of all of this remember that according to a Council meeting questions answered last year by Cllr Rajwant Sidhu the Council has so far spent over £123,000 on telling the public. But don't tell them that as it would only give them an excuse to increase their communications budget again.

This is unlikely to be the end of this story...

Update:

We've been informed that right now the Greenwich Council Customer Service is “...at present we are facing unprecedented demand.”

Could this be because the bins haven't been emptied?

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42 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly my thought.

I have 2 cats and a lot of cat litter. Now it has to sit in a black bin bag outside for 2 weeks.
How will that smell in the summer?

I live in a complex with 5 other flats and we have 3 huge bins for food waste. Looking at it today - just one of the bins was covered with food waste...and that was all. Yet we have 3 bins!

Now most rubbish will sit for two weeks.

This just all seems to be council cutbacks, not so cunningly disguised as a great step forward in recycling. I guess they wanted to spend more on telling us how wonderful they are?

Remind me what we pay our council tax for?!?

10:50 am  
Blogger Charlton Average said...

I can't believe that I'm sticking up for the Council but here goes...

The Council point out on their web site (the link you give) and in at least some of the leaflets I got prior to this all coming into force that some of the things on the list should be recycled at the recycling points scattered around the borough.

Things like waxed cartons, batteries, electrical items and batteries can all be recycled that way.

However I'm young(ish) and have my own car so it's easy for me to take such things with me when I go shopping. I can see that it might be harder for other people.

You can also arrange to have special nappy sacks that will be collected weekly so that's that problem seemingly solved too.

Pet waste I'm happy to keep for two weeks, I bag it tightly before putting it in the bin and it doesn't smell. Likewise other smelly but non-recyclable or compostable waste.

I'm guessing that what's left in the black sack shouldn't pose too much temptation for urban foxes. Well I hope not anyway, we'll see in a weeks time I guess.

I do think that the Council has made a reasonable effort to inform people of what's happening. I've had a number of leaflets on the issue, some just popped through the door and others actually addressed to me and posted.

However I do think that some peoples selfishness and idiocy is going to cause trouble.

I've already blogged about finding plastic waste in my green bin and having to sort it out. This morning I also noted many black sacks outside peoples houses despite it not being black sack day until next week. Well I think it's next week, I hope it's next week...

All told I'm hopeful about this new scheme and it's one of the very few things that I'm pleased with the Council about.

All told though I still think they're rubbish.

10:59 am  
Anonymous t said...

Apparently there will be a special collection service for disposable nappies. I hope its regular and works as I'm certainly not going to be leaving my daughters pooey nappies in a black bag for 2 weeks.

If necessary I will be more than happy to deliver them directly to the town hall - thus helping the council by saving them money on collection.

11:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still waiting for my paper bags - getting messy in the bin now.
Will GC be offering a 'clean your wheelie bin service' for a couple of quid per month?
Can't believe that they intend to power their fleet of vans using our food waste? Is there really that much waste?

OK, big question for the Council - why can't we use whichever bin that is now going to be redundant, to hold everything on this list and you pick it up just like you did last week and nobody has to bother with bin bags?

Perhaps I'll post this in the O2 box where they'll see it.

5:47 pm  
Anonymous John said...

On my drive home tonight I was caught in traffic by a Greenwich Council rubbish lorry still on its collection at 6.30pm!
How much overtime are the rubbish collectors getting for this mess!

7:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the things you can leave at the recycling points are recyclable, why can't we put them in the recycling wheelie bin?? I moved here from Reading and the council there collected ALL recyclables in one go.

Foxes will still smell the food residue on non-recyclable food packaging, or they might just be curious, so I would have thought it will still be a problem.

And update on flats - despite the council saying we would be exempt (see anon post under asking the right questions), as I suspected our 'normal' waste was not collected today. Our one communal bin (= approx four wheelies)caters for a seven households, so of course it is already full. This is going to be very unpleasant...

7:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Council might have been better off spending some of their £123,000 publicity budget on explaining to some of their refuse operatives how the system is supposed to work.

The Bin Lorry has just been down my road (at 8pm!) and the food bin hasn't been emptied. The bloke looked in it, clearly decided there wasn't enough in it and left it. So that will be two week old food in there by the time they get round to do it again! Nice.

8:11 pm  
Anonymous The Council Baiter said...

I live in a block of flats - we currently have 3 palladins for waste, and one recycle bin.
As I understand it this is going to stay as it is and we will not be expected to separate down the waste products.

However considering that our recyling palladin has not been emptied for over a month, since before Christmas, residents are now forced to put their recycling into the waste bins....so it's not working for us at all......

8:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really is a disaster - how long before the new system implodes? I have three small babies, all on nappies - that'll be nice to keep for a fortnight... Council suggest that we use terry nappies instead (ecologically sounder they say) - much as I love paying ever-increasing utility bills, not sure the ecological case has been made.

9:40 pm  
Blogger St Crispin said...

I wrote to the council asking what bin I should put the new "green top food bin" in. They've not replied!!

12:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that i work for the council do i qualify for the pension scheme?

7:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the extortiant charges the council want us to spend on the paper food waste bags - which are sold by them! We dont pay enough for this "service" to get the paper bags for free???? Total and Absolute Extortion.

So no one can afford the "council recyclable food bags" so we throw the raw waste in the bin? How hygenic is that? Are we trying to encourage the rat population?

Recycling is one thing, mandatory composting is really outrageous. Even now as I walk to the train station I can smell the bins ripening, just wait until summer.

Mmmmmm, smells like Greenwich!

9:27 am  
Anonymous Recycle Junkie said...

Smells like trouble ahead!!!!

Week one and I have already had to report a fly tip again.

Are they going to pay to clear mice and rats that this rubbish will attract to nearby houses...no thought not!

By the way I recycle and think it is a good idea generally but as long as flytippers are tackled.

12:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>things on the list should be >recycled at the recycling points >scattered around the borough.
>Things like waxed cartons, >batteries, electrical items and >batteries can all be recycled >that way.

I get your point - but now we are expected to dispose of our own rubbish. Is this what we pay or council tax for?
Also not to ignore the fact that rubbish sitting there for a week is having to be transported in my car along with my weekly shop!

>Pet waste I'm happy to keep for >two weeks, I bag it tightly >before putting it in the bin and >it doesn't smell.

They cannot go in the council bins - as they are already assigned to food & recyclables. So I'd have to buy a new bin - which *will* get nicked.

I do take your points but I am pissed off and beyond being reasoned with. :)

2:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on disposable nappies - the case was not proven, the Environment Agency did a proper lifecycle study and due to the laundry service transport and chemicals used, disposables and terry nappies are about the same environmentally speaking. The issue is actually about running out of landfill space though, which clearly does need tackling.

3:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re 'unprecedented demand' I can confirm that the number to report uncollected bins was engaged constantly from half 6 to 8 (when it closes) last night.

And I too saw two collection trucks on my way home, so not isolated incidents.

3:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recycling is good, whinging is bad! Spend more time recycling and loving our planet and less time moaning about it and we may leave a planet behind for future generations. With such a huge upheaval in refuse services I think its fair to expect some teething problems, but the long term outcomes are clearly so beneficial that I don't think it's unreasonable to be just a little bit patient!

6:49 pm  
Anonymous The Council Baiter said...

Yes, we should love our planet anonymous. I completely agree with you.

However when Greenwich is in the top 3 of London's dirtiest boroughs and when they are not making any clear statement that they do not object to the growth of aviation emissions over the borough by London City Airport...it is rather difficult to love/have faith in Greenwich and their claimed committment to Green Policies.

'Some' teething problems in respect of the new refuse collections are acceptable yes....but widespread teething problems are not acceptable especially when household waste soon becomes a health and safety issue.

11:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if everyone on this site is slightly jaded.

1 - I managed to sign up in the first week for the WEEKLY nappy collection service and a lovely lady popped round from the council with bags for me to pop them in. This was at 8pm on a Friday night - so I could make the Monday pick up. Which was fantastic.

2 - I then phoned again a few days later to buy a little black bin to keep this tidy out front.

I think the staff should be commended for being so helpful and - congrats to Greenwich council for uping the recycling stuff.

11:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being very dubious of anything this council does i am a bit concerned that they feed this to us peasants to give us something to whinge about, and keep us from seeing what is really going on, a tactic used frequently by other governing bodies. To spend all this money advertising something that is going to be very hard to police tends to make me suspicious, there are to many easy alternatives ie dump it in one of the many bins littering our pavements, chuck it in the pavement, put it in a carrier and leave it in a litter bin, or just dump it on the nearest waste land or park. And as for Greenwich saving the planet, over building, man made traffic jams, its about as true as being a nuclear free zone in the 70s

2:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't whinging it is raising real problems or do they jsut get in the way?
If I were to spend £123K on a project and it had this many teething problems, I'd be looking for a new job.
I just pity the average Council employees as they are just doing as they are told and probably taking a lot of flak for such a half arsed idea.

Does anybody have a figure of exactly how many vans are going to be powered by the collected food waste?
What next, Soylent Green?

6:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the Greenwich Recycling depot today - what a disappointment. There were skips for recyclables (like metal and wood)... and many more skips for "household" items. These latter bins had a notice that anything put into them would NOT be recycled. So I asked, "Where do I put plastic?" Answer: "Household". "OK... where do I put paper?" Answer: "Household".

What is the point of a recycling depot where there ain't much recycling going on?

And, one has to ask, what happens to our blue-top bin mixed recyclables?

8:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wednesday 24 Jan, first collection under new system, i have a Blue bin and a Green bin, and have been supplied with a small kitchen bucket for food waste, so having put food waste in this, paper in the Blue bin, and all else in the Green bin i find that in spite of a mutitude of dust carts parading the streets, my green bin which is full has been left, along with other various bags of rubbish in the road. I would assume that i and some of my neighbours have done something wrong, but having used all the equipment supplied we are at a loss to know what. I note that a lot of the Green bins have had a Red sticker stuck on the lid, i didnt qualify for this it seems. And now i see i am going to have to pay for even poorer service, the joys of being an old age disabled pensioner living in Greenwich

3:44 pm  
Blogger The Last Boy Scout said...

Much the same in Plumstead, Blue bin collected no problems (it was due this week anyway), but NO collection of the green bin! Now have to face the prospect of having to wait another week before the greenbin it picked up, with the food rotting all the time. Something I seem to remember being promised wouldn't happen.

One week in and they're already screwing it up.

6:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont worry, our food scraps are still sitting in our bin rotting away, they never got picked up yesterday. Why Greenwich can impose their pity penalties if we get our sorting incorrect, they put a big notice on your rubbish and refuse to pick it up. (Has anyone seen them actually going through our bags inspecting the rubbish? How much overtime does all that cost?) So what happens to the "Lords of Greenwich" when they dont deliver on their side of the "deal"? Nothing that's what. That's Greenwich.

No one is whinging about recycling, but we dont want uncontained food (or wrapped in decomposing newspaper)rotting in unsanity bins that were never intended for raw food. Certainly this has to be some type of health issue?

And dont even try to call them on the phone, Greenwich's answer to the serfs of Greenwich is a constant busy tone because the phone is probably off the hook. My what a wonderful fiefdom!

11:25 am  
Blogger Charlton Average said...

Maybe we should try and collate some kind of information on their performance this week, or lack of it.

On my blog someone else who lives in Charlton and has a collection date of Thursday has told me that their green bin was emptied on the right day but not until about 5.30pm.

Here in SE7 they're still full.

SE10 had it's bins taken on their correct day of Monday.

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Fed up with whingers said...

A previous poster claims to be disappointed at the fact they went to a Greenwich recylcing depot and found they had to put paper and plastic in the same bin

ie houshold

Why are you disappointed?

If you took the time to look into what happens to your waste instead of just whingeing you would see!

Like me - anyone can book into a tour of the facility they use to recycle your waste over in Thamesmead.

Its called the MRF and the plant seperates out plastics from paper from cardboard etc in your household waste...SO YOU DONT HAVE TO!!!

So why disappointed - I get the feeling you would have whinged either way - especially if you had had to put the items in seperate bins yourself. God forbid...

5:13 pm  
Anonymous fed up with fed up whingers said...

People are allowed to voice their opinions on here, stop trying to shout them down. There are real problems with the service that could have been slowly and properly introduced to educate and get people onside instead of rushed out, jammed down our throats and come off totally half-assed. Change needs to be managed correctly.

A program which cost us £123,000 to just advertise, could have been better spent. Who knows how much all the new equipment and other rigamaroll has cost us to get us in line immediately with recycling before the Council got fined.

Taking issue with the "whingers", people who dont understand the nuances of recycling (including Greenwich themselves) is detracting from the real issue.

9:25 am  
Blogger The Last Boy Scout said...

The grren top bins in Plumstead were finally collected this morning two days late. What made me laugh is that exactly an hour later a 2nd bin lorry turned up with the guys looking a little surprised that the bins in the street were empty! Fantastic resource planning I felt.

Although, what did seem pointless is that some residents had either ignored, or didn't have a clue about, the changes and put black bags in these bins. But they were still collected anyway and thrown into the same lorry. So what was the point?

10:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unprecedented demand" baffles me -don't the Council realise EVERYONE IN GREENWICH needs their bin collected... how can they have been surprised?
This has been chronicly mismanaged. I'm a supporter but my concern about the environment is not only for the ice caps and the rainforests but also my street and I don't find nappies sitting on the street all week environmentally friendly at all.
GREENWICH COUNCIL TAX PAYERS NEED AN APOLOGY FOR THE TOTAL BALLS UP THIS HAS BEEN INSTEAD WE GET GREENWICH TIME TELLING US WHAT A SUCCESS IT ALL IS AND THEY'VE MANAGED TO FIND THE ONLY COUPLE IN THE BOROUGH WITH NO COMPLAINTS.

11:20 am  
Blogger sibonetic said...

While not a lover of many of the things the council does or worse still fails to do, the main problems of the new scheme in my Road are mainly caused by peoples stupidity, not the councils.
After the Thursday collection, it looked like a bomb had hit the road! This was mainly due to people putting out their black bin bag waste on the wrong day, that collection is not due till next week, and other people who had not bothered to read the information supplied and filled up their green bins with the wrong things.

What does concern me is the fact that the change has been done on the cheap and you now has a very large green bin which unless you have a huge garden will never have much in it and nowhere to store the black bin bag rubbish. It would have made much more sense to replace the big green bin with a smaller one and supply a small black bin for the waste left over.

The collections were late on Thursday, but I expect this is because, they had to spend so much time reminding stupid lazy people what they are meant to do because they couldn't be bothered to read a leaflet.

12:36 pm  
Anonymous The Council Baiter said...

Our blocks recycling palladin was finally emptied last Thursday after a massive 5 week wait....and that only happened as the residents contacted Cleansweep.

Now, I wonder if Greewich Council would call that a whinge??

7:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In spite of numerous dust carts roaming the streets to 8.00pm at least my bin was not emptied, however i did not complain assuming that i may have put something in that i shouldnt, i transfered the contents to black bags and awaited the next collection of same, however i live opposite a small block of council flats, and at 3.00pm on SATURDAY a dust cart with to men on board arrived and proceeded to wheel out two bins filled to overflowing with black bags placed on top of them, they then reentered the flats and took various other items of rubbish, this was all put into the back of the same vehicle, with no apparent check on what went where. And then to top it all i get a copy of Greenwich Time ( a rare event where i live) and find a hand picked couple telling me what a wonderful idea this is, i suggest the said reporter widens his field of questioning and find out the true feeling of this over priced scheme, and what has been sacrificed to pay for it all.

7:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ps to last posting, have just found dustmen working on Sunday?????

9:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dustmen working on a weekend? Extra dustcarts on the streets? My goodness what must be up?

Maybe the Council has recognised that there are some problems with the new system and have therefore tried to do something about it.

How dreadful!

8:09 pm  
Anonymous PeterB said...

SE7, now 2 weeks into the new scheme and all the collections have been made advertised.

Looks like the Council are now running two shifts a day.. that makes good sense, getting twice as much use per day out of very expensive vehicles instead of leaving them idle for 16 hours a day.

Working on a Sunday to catch up with any backlog or mistakes.. just what I expect a decent organisation to do.

1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear that Peter B is happy with what he call a decent organisation, its nice to know that out of the multitude of unhappy residents that at least a few are getting some service, just check this blog to see how the numbers stack up. And as for council dust carts etc clogging up our already congested streets seven days a week, need i say more, there is also the fact that the more these expensive vehicles are used the quicker they will have to be replaced. Add to this the extra expense of staff petrol and admin i think you will find for the most of us we are paying more for less, and already bags are appearing dumped on our roads and in our open spaces, try to phone up and complain, very busy call back later.

6:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found 'Greenwich Time' very useful in lining the small plastic food bin.
I'd like to know how environmentally friendly it is to manufacture thousands of green topped and blue topped bins?

3:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bin lorries now working two shifts per day instead of one?
How environmentally friendly is that?
Proof if it were needed that this is sod all to do with environmentalism and more to do with political posturing.

BTW, who do I ask about getting asbo's for the foxes that have been ripping up my black bags?
I put a sign on them saying "NO FOOD" but I forgot that the Council is only responsible for poorly educating children not wildlife.

5:48 pm  
Blogger colin said...

I love recycling. I'm an adamant fan of it - I recycled in the US, and I recycled in Japan (its mandatory there). I've been recycling for nigh on nine years now.

That said, I move to Greenwich, and what do I find?

The most convoluted, poorly thought out recycling project I have ever seen. If I was ever asked what something "designed by a committee" would look like, I now have a perfect example!

Nothing would make me happier - nothing - than to be part of a sensible recycling project that is simple to follow and doesn't leave me with tons of black bags that can't go out, rotting food that isn't being picked up, and a myriad of dos and do-nots that mean you second-guess yourself every time you attempt to recycle.

I don't live near a recycling centre and I don't drive a car. If I did, I'd willingly bypass the bins and just go to the centre, but I cannot!

I'm ready to opt out as a statement of my unhappiness. Is that possible? What happens if you do? Do they no longer collect your rubbish, or do they send a letter through your door?

I do believe that things will get better, but I want Greenwich council to know that they have seriously dropped the ball here - and to cut the crap with claiming that there has been a "fantastic response" to this. There has been, but I doubt its been positive...

7:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As this fiasco procedes, another day of numerous council vehicles chasing each other around the streets, piles of rubbish blowing everywhere, isnt it time that the man/men who came up with this scheme were named,as currently it is the bin men and the phone operators that are taking the flack. At least if w knew who they were we could avoid voting for them when the time comes

11:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 months ago I ordered a black bin and corn bags I am still waiting!!!!GREENWICH COUNCIL get your act together. I remember as a child,recycling is not a new thing we did it years ago and it worked . The bin men where MEN they lifted a bin over their shoulders, went out to the back garden picked it up and left it where they found it . The new bin men (I use men very loosely) leave it in front of the drive, on the middle of the pavement and come when its dark with their torch like little 007s.

8:43 am  

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