City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Today's News Is Rubbish

By edg - Posted on 25 November 2011

Holey Bin Bags, Edinburgh New Town

Edinburgh City Council voted to scrap plans to outsource rubbish collection in the Scottish capital. Lib Dem councillors had planned to contract out collection of residential waste to a private company Enterprise Managed Services. The firm had committed to increase Edinburgh's recycling rate to over 60% by making it easier for residents with single containers for dry recycling and by providing 350 recycling bins in public places.

The company said it would also plant 600 new trees annually, reduce C02 emissions by 22% and carbon footprint of services by 40%, while making a saving for the council of £71.6m over the next seven years. There was also a commitment to recruit 30 apprentices annually.

The initiative was defeated by a coalition of SNP, Labour, and Green councillors and one Lib Dem Gary Peacock, who felt the public sector should be given the chance to make improvements to environmental services.

"We now have a clear council decision and I look forward to working with the staff and their representatives to deliver the improvements to which we have all now committed," said Mark Turley, Director of Services for Communities.

Bye, bye black bin bags

One thing that could soon disappear from the streets of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh is the black bin bag. The World Heritage Site is the last remaining area of the city where domestic waste is collected in this way, due to a history, spanning many years, of disputes between residents, conservation groups, and council over appropriate bins.

Rubbish placed out on the pavement in black sacks currently leads to significant litter problems as the bags are vulnerable to being ripped open by seagulls and vermin in search of food waste.

A number of different methods of waste collection were piloted at a variety of locations within the city centre over the summer months this year.

These included communal containers, gull-proof bags (in which black sacks are presented), food waste and evening collections.

The evaluation of the pilot found the highest level of customer satisfaction with communal containers (91%), followed by gull proof bags at 87%.

Both methods proved effective in reducing litter from household waste, while an assessment by Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Scotland showed that with careful consideration to location and siting, both forms of collection would be appropriate for the World Heritage Site.

A report on the outcome of the pilot asks members of the Council's Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee to approve a complete phasing out of black bag collections in the city centre, with these being substituted with communal containers, or, in certain circumstances, with gull-proof bags.

Where these measures are already being piloted, the recommendation is to make these new collection methods permanent.

Meanwhile, in areas outside the pilot zones, the Council will undertake further consultation with residents (through meetings with community councils and residents' associations) on introducing on-street communal containers. This consultation will assess how containers can be sited in such way that they do not detract from the unique built environment characteristic of the World Heritage Site. In certain areas where this cannot be achieved, residents will be consulted on the introduction of gull proof bags instead.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader, said: "Black sack collections have well passed their "use-by date" - being so vulnerable to gulls and vermin, they lead to unsighly rubbish being strewn across pavements. "

The Modernising Waste Project was set up in September 2010, with the aim of identifying appropriate alternative methods of waste collection for the city centre, taking into account the issues associated with its World Heritage site status. The project involved staff from Waste Services, the City Centre and Leith Neighbourhood Team, Planning, Historic Scotland and Edinburgh World Heritage.

The report, Modernising Waste Collection in the World Heritage Area, will be considered on Tuesday 29 November 2011.