In March this year Aberdeen City Council started rolling out the new mixed recycling collections across the city. As we all know, this has resulted in our existing 240L black bins becoming recycling bins and being replaced by 180L bins for unrecyclable rubbish. All households were also given access to food and (if appropriate) garden waste collections, including rural properties which had, to date, been excluded from recycling collections.
The introduction of the new service was long overdue as people wanted to recycle more, but the recycling facilities in Aberdeen were very poor and the system in place did not make it easy for people to recycle. It took about three months to cover all addresses so you’d think that, subject to a few hiccups, it would have settled down by now. Regrettably, this does not appear to have been the case.
The Implementation Phase
Lib Dem Environment Spokesman Steve Delaney said, “We’ve been screaming out for a better recycling service for years but its introduction has been nothing less than chaotic. In some areas, mostly flats but also areas where there was inadequate ground space to accommodate the number of bins, it was obvious other solutions such as communal facilities would be needed. However, rather than return to base and report the issue, the crews just dumped the bins on the street regardless. Surely it would have made more sense to re-examine options for these addresses at the end of the programme?”
“By way of an example, I alerted the Council to the need for communal bins in a section of North Anderson Drive and the inability to store this volume of individual bins at this location due to lack of ground space. This information was passed on some weeks prior to the roll out, yet the individual bins were delivered regardless and residents are now being told it may take up to a year until communal bins are put in place. It’s an absolute disgrace”.
Rural Properties Being Missed
He continued, “I’ve also had complaints from rural properties in Kingswells which are being routinely missed out of recycling uplifts, despite having been provided with the bins. Some addresses are being done, others are being missed and some of these are within sight of each other. The Council response has acknowledged they are aware of ‘a handful of outstanding issues’ and confirmed they are working towards resolving these. If you live in one of the rural properties around Kingswells and are still experiencing difficulties, please let me know”.
Assisted Uplifts Were Not On The System
Steve added, “In addition, the Council uplifts a number of bins from addresses where people are unable to put out their own bins as a result of infirmity or significant physical disability. These too were being missed as the software designed to manage the routes did not flag up these addresses. It wasn’t until I raised this that a manual system was put in place in an attempt to resolve matters. This was reported as a result of a couple in their nineties not having their bin collected for several weeks. I’ve since been assured the software issues have now been addressed, but if you know differently, please let me know”.
Brown Bins Left Lying For Days
Steve said, “Then there’s the issue with brown bin uplifts where bins are being left lying for days, sometimes longer, before they get picked up. The Council has blamed the increase in recycling, the highest ever in Aberdeen between April and June, and the challenges this creates during the rollout of a new service. Could this not have reasonably been anticipated with the increase in the different types of materials which can now be recycled? I’m advised the capacity issue is now being addressed, but it may be another 2-3 weeks until matters are fully resolved”.
Dumped Rubbish And Fire Risks
He said, “Just to cap it all, the Council has recently suspended the uplift of bulky items with no advance warning in order to try to clear the backlog of missed collections. As people put items out for collection outside their homes, my fear is that this will attract fly tipping. Requests for bulky goods uplifts will resume from 31 July but I suspect the backlog will take many more weeks to clear”.
“A constituent yesterday raised concerns that the mattress she had put outside her home for collection might be set on fire after being told that collections have been suspended. Following on from the Grenfell tragedy we need to re-evaluate everything we do in respect of minimising any potential fire risk and keeping people safe”.
‘At an absolute minimum the Council needs to communicate any intentions to suspend future bulky uplifts in advance and risk assess any applications received during a suspension period from a safety perspective. I am currently pressing for assurances on these points”.
“To say that I’m absolutely furious would be an understatement! The new refuse collection service was planned out over a long period of time, yet the foreseeable and obvious difficulties do not appear to have been built into the delivery plan”.
“Even accepting that some unforeseen difficulties have arisen, I’m appalled the Council appears to have lost control of the situation and is only now, five months after the new service commenced its roll out, that there appears to be an end in sight”.
“Please rest assured I will be happy to follow up on any further concerns until matters are fully resolved. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you are experiencing ongoing issues with bin collections”.