CROYDON COMMENTARY: So just how might Croydon’s householders cope with the invasion of wheelie bins we have been told to expect over the coming weeks? KIRSTIE SMITH, right, has some suggestions
Inside Croydon’s coverage of Binmageddon coincided with the day we opened information from the council about the changes to our bins and recycling. “Change is coming!” it exclaimed. “Join us in helping make Croydon one of the cleanest, greenest boroughs in London!” Excellent, how do we do that? New bins, more bins, recycle more, it told us.
On closer inspection, the leaflet delivered to us had a reference in the top right hand corner “ref: Houses”.
We don’t live in a house, but a purpose-built maisonette, so it seemed we had been sent the wrong leaflet.
Online I went, to find the correct one, but alas, we don’t exist.
We are neither a house nor a purpose-built flat nor a flat over a shop, so we don’t count.
We have shared access with three other properties to our gardens and our bins. Under the new plans we’ll have to find space for 12 bins (excluding anyone who might also have a garden waste bin). TWELVE?
At best, it’ll be a receiving line of bins, at worst, it will be a monstrosity. I’m not sure where they are all going to go.
But it’s ok, the council carried out a survey and decided we have room. We don’t need plants in the front garden anyway, or access to the back garden.
Don’t get me wrong, we are all for recycling. We do our bit and the council currently has provision if the current box isn’t big enough; just order another – we have two boxes for plastics and glass and one for paper and they serve us well.
The idea is that by providing us with bigger bins we will recycle more and it will save the council £5million per year. How? Just by providing bigger – and more – bins does not mean it is possible to recycle more. Many of the residents in Croydon do recycle all they can and of course, there is a responsibility on us all to do so.
For many it’s just the way of life, but not everything can be recycled. Until the way we buy things changes there will still be general waste; it doesn’t reduce just because the bin has less capacity.
The proposed changes are likely to mean overflowing bins, which as well as being unsightly will attract vermin. This certainly won’t fulfil the council’s pledge to make Croydon one of the cleanest and greenest boroughs.
What provision has Croydon Council made for changes to the way people receive and view information in 2018? Much of it is now digital; news is read on phones, tablets and laptops, meaning a natural reduction in paper, so why on earth do we need a great big wheelie bin for paper and card (except at Christmas, then it might be handy)?
How will these changes save the council £5million per year? We haven’t been given a breakdown and the new plethora of bins will be expensive. More bins will also take more time to empty, so collection rounds are likely to be slower rather than more efficient, unless more staff are employed, but that’s going to cost.
There are problems with the current service; we’ve had missed collections, the contents of the bins strewn across the front of the property where little care has been taken, and a broken front gate – thanks for that, Veolia.
Textile recycling, placed in carrier bags on top of recycling boxes, often gets ignored, until a note in big letters saying “TEXTILES” is added. The local recycling point is often a mess, it’s not emptied often enough and the council knows this is a problem as they have installed cameras to catch anyone who leaves anything next to an overflowing bin, or fly tips.
One good thing that might come from this change might be that these recycling points are used less. But I doubt it. The reason people use these points is not because they don’t have enough room in their box (you could order another, remember), but because they don’t want recycling sitting outside their property, potentially for two weeks. It’s called “kerb appeal” and not unreasonably many residents like their property to like nice outside as well as in.
Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and Veolia can do better, but one size does not fit all. If (when?) this doesn’t work, who will pick up the tab? That’ll be us, the residents through increased Council Tax, and by that time we could be drowning in general waste.
So what of our current boxes? “Could you re-use them around the house?” the council asks in its leaflet. Erm… No.
They are bins. They have been outside for years, are dirty and even with a good clean they are not coming inside the property.
“A garden planter perhaps?” No thanks, they’re not attractive (though more attractive than a wheelie bin), I don’t think there are drainage holes for the water and I’m not handy with a drill.
Then take them to the dump is the council’s answer. Excellent. I really want a trip to the dump. That’s exactly where I want to go on my day off with young children in tow. And what of those who can’t drive? How do they dispose of (return) theirs?
Many of Croydon’s new builds are flats that don’t have parking spaces for each flat. Many people don’t need cars as they are relying on public transport given that Croydon boasts a great transport network. Croydon’s dumps don’t allow the public to access them without being in a car. So how can they return theirs for recycling? They can’t.
It would make more sense for the council to collect the current boxes at the same time as delivering the new bins. Not being able to return the boxes will lead to an increase in fly tipping, but it’s not an immediate problem anyway, because though you might get your new bins as soon as this week, you can’t use them till September. Find somewhere to store them and look at them for now, deciding how you are going to fill them.
So, Croydon Council, how about this for a plan?
- Conduct a proper survey – and I don’t mean one where you just look at stats on the computer – survey the different types of properties in your borough because different properties have different requirements. Get out there on the streets and get to know your borough.
- Survey the residents. Engage with us. Ask us about their current recycling, how we recycle (doorstep, dump or recycling point).
- Ask us what changes they would like to see. Some people will have great ideas.
- Analyse the results, including the comments.
- Conduct a trial, which includes different types of properties in different parts of the borough, to see if what you are suggesting works.
- Review the results and determine the impact on us, the residents, on you, the council and on Veolia as refuse collectors.
- And then make a decision on the best plan of action and what change should be implemented. This would be based on the trial results, bearing in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in such a diverse borough.
But that’s not what the council is going to do.
So instead, keep your eyes as from September, you might see any returned or fly-tipped no-longer-required recycling boxes pop up on a roundabout near you, full of flowers.
They make excellent planters. Honest.
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