As anticipated, there’s nothing more likely to stir up a bit of local interest than a load of old rubbish. But please don’t expect this to be another column about Richard Ottaway.
Our rubbish report earlier this week about the less-than-perfect introduction of food waste “caddies” excited considerable comment, in comments posted directly to the article, emails and via Twitter (@InsideCroydon).
The local Greens seemed particularly miffed at our disparaging comments about the scheme, while with others, the caddies appear about as welcome as Wayne Rooney‘s dad holding a betting slip and walking into the South End branch of Ladbrokes.
Residents, such as David White, a one-time Labour councillor on the GLC, wrote, “It is a step forward to have recycling of food waste and fortnightly collection of non-recyclables will encourage me and others to recycle as much as possible. Similar schemes seem to have worked in other areas.”
Not sure anyone can disagree with that. But White adds an important rider. “Having said this Croydon Council should not have ended the garden waste collection so early and it would have been better if they had consulted on the new scheme.”
Croydon Council? Consult? Do those words ever sit happily in the same sentence?
We have received several reports of utter confusion among residents over the timing of what is supposed to be the final garden waste collection of the year, with calls to the Taberner House phone line and some council-published leaflets providing conflicting advice.
Another south London resident, Saif Bonar, got in touch. “I support the food recycling in Croydon,” he wrote. “Bromley introduced it a few years ago and it works well. But…” there had to be a “but”, “…my two cats are running up an astonishing kill count and I wonder how smelly decomposing rats will become after two weeks.”
Rats were mentioned as an issue with food recycling schemes more than once. The theory is that cooked food waste, which is to be collected weekly from the caddies by Croydon Council, ought not become an issue with vermin. But some who have tried using compost bins for their raw kitchen and garden waste remain convinced that this new “source” of food in their gardens has been the cause of their rodent problems, and so are distrustful of any change to their weekly bin collections.
The essence of the criticism of the Croydon scheme remains more to do with the management of its introduction, rather than the method itself.
On the day that we posted our previous rubbish report, we were sent this email from a south Croydon resident who was less angry with his council, more resigned to the blatant mishandling of the situation:
“We have not received our new recycling food caddies, bags or new refuse instructions or new dates of collection. This was all supposed to have been delivered before September 30.
“I rang Croydon Council on Friday late afternoon reporting – no food waste caddy, no instructions or collection times had been given to us. The guy who answered took our details and said he would call back. They never did.
“I sent an email to Croydon Council detailing our problems and got an auto response saying they would answer within 24 hours. They never did.
“We stuck a note on our wheelie bin stating our problem. We had our wheelie bin collected this morning – Oct 4 (we put it out on the off-chance). The guy read the note and looked up to the house and shrugged his shoulders and then got back on the refuse lorry and went.
“I rang the council on their recycling number 8 726 6200 and after along totally uninteresting spiel about the new recycling and the reasons for it – which was out of date anyway – and then instructions to press this for this and that for that, I received a recorded announcement saying that all their reps were busy due to a high rate of calls. You need to take a mortgage out to pay for the phone bill.
“The announcement then indicated that there were 13 callers in the queue and that the caller just answered, ie No1 in the queue, had had to wait 20 minutes, so I hung up.
“If my wheelie bin is not collected for another two weeks it will be full of food waste which should have gone into a food caddie. Therefore I will have extra black bags of rubbish which should go in the wheelie bin but can’t because the wheelie bin will be full to overflowing with a fortnights normal waste for landfill and the additional food waste.”
So something smells, and it is not necessarily Croydon people’s refuse.
Shasha Khan, from Croydon & Sutton Greens, outlined the party’s position for Inside Croydon, and makes an important point about what may be the real reason behind the council’s changes: “The direction of travel must be towards reducing, reusing and recycling everything possible. Waste should be seen as a resource.
“The incentives are there to do this because failure to divert waste away from landfill will result in a hefty landfill tax bill.
“However, I would argue that the Tory council have rolled out food collections to justify a reduced service rather than a genuine attempt to reduce landfill or to cut greenhouse gas emissions.The Tory councillors also stand accused of breaking an election promise,” Khan said, referring to the Conservative manifesto pledge last year not to introduce fortnightly bin collections.
“We would now like to see councillors to push forward and do as much as possible to support businesses to recycle. The Tories must embrace the environmental principle behind food waste collections and not see at as a cost-cutting measure. Some of the £600,000 saving should be used to promote, inform and help residents with the new system.”
Incidentally, the £600,000 annual saving expected to be made by going to fortnightly “landfill bin” collections happens to be less than Croydon Council spends each year on its Ministry of Truth.
Read more from the Greens on recycling policy by clicking here.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
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