Binmageddon!: Veolia won’t empty the bins for three weeks

Our Town Hall correspondent, KEN LEE, reports on the latest contentious move by the council’s rubbish contractors

A new bin service under which Veolia won’t be providing any service for nearly a month

The roll-out of new household refuse bins and a new cycle for emptying them, due to begin next month, will see the council’s rubbish contractors not bother emptying households’ domestic rubbish and recycling for at least three weeks.

That’s the shocking admission in a letter which is being distributed around the borough this week from contractors Veolia and Croydon Council.

“That just stinks!” one disgruntled Council Tax-payer told Inside Croydon.

The letter, which is dated “August 2018”, is unsigned, apparently from an anonymous operative at what Veolia UK calls its “communications and education outreach team”. So clearly there’s some corporate reluctance to take responsibility for the information contained in the letter.

“For more than three weeks, in the late summer, household rubbish, babies’ used nappies, kitchen and food waste, and goodness knows what else, is going to be sitting outside our home, festering in the heat, attracting flies, maggots and vermin. How can anyone justify a withdrawal of this service for ’21 days or more’, just while they get themselves organised?

“I shall be writing to Stuart Collins asking for a refund of one month’s Council Tax because of this,” the resident said, referring to the Labour-run council’s cabinet member responsible for the refuse service.

The letters follow a summer-long council “consultation”, with a number of roadshows staged around the borough to advise and inform residents of how Veolia and the council’s new bin system is supposed to work.

The letter, carrying Veolia and Croydon Council logos, which announces the non-collection of rubbish for ’21 days or more’, which was received by some households this week

But residents who have attended the roadshows report that there has never been any mention of a three-week hiatus in rubbish collections during September.

And the latest letters have been distributed, it seems, without any advance notification being given to some of the councillors who represent the wards affected.

When a similar bins service was introduced by Veolia in Sutton in April 2017, it took more than six months before residents’ bins were being collected regularly and reliably again, although some complaints continue still, 18 months later. It earned the service a social media hashtag, #SuttonBinShame.

The failure of Veolia to make any bin collections for nearly a month across Croydon during one of the hottest summers on record could have far worse repercussions, prompting a hashtag of its own: #CroydonBinCrisis.


Veolia are simultaneously introducing a new bin collection system in nearby Merton, another one of the boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership, which is claiming that the changes in collections will save Croydon £5million per year.

But the imposition of two additional wheelie bins on households has proved to be deeply unpopular with thousands of residents, especially those living in flats or on smaller terraced streets.

In an entirely unscientific poll conducted by Inside Croydon over the past month, half of respondents – 49.9 per cent – said they would refuse to accept the new bins being foisted upon them by the council and Veolia. Only 35 per cent said they would do what Collins and the council wants, and accept the new bins. And 15 per cent expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposals by responding: “See you in court, Tony Newman”.

And all those responses, of course, was before the latest letter to excuse a shabbier than usual service from Veolia and the council.

Staff distributing the new bins are not entirely on message, either

The letter begins: “I am writing to you with important information about your current fortnightly recycling and waste collection.” This bit is in bold type, so it must be really important.

“As you move from the current collection timetable to the new service, which starts in September, there will be a gap of 21 days or more between some of your collections. For this reason, you will be eligible for a special one-off collection of your general waste and paper and card.

“The additional collection will be over the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August. So please put your general waste (non-recyclable waste) and paper and card out by 6am on Saturday 25 August for collection over that weekend. Please return your containers back to your property after they have been emptied.”

August 25 to 27 is the weekend of the late summer bank holiday, when many families may already have plans to be away. The letters, delivered with less than a fortnight’s notice, will have been dropping on doormats of some households while the residents are away for their annual holiday.

From the councillors contacted by Inside Croydon, it is clear that they had been given no more advance warning of the three weeks of non-collection than any of the borough’s residents.

“I suppose having the extra collection over a bank holiday weekend is better than not having one at all,” one Town Hall source said. “Not sure whether council officers or Veolia came up with this idea.”

Another councillor said, “This is the first I’ve heard about it. It is clearly less than ideal.”

The last full council meeting was staged at the Town Hall on July 9. There now is not another meeting of the council – when public questions about the withdrawal of the rubbish collection service might be asked – until October 8.

Refuse collection is a statutory service, which local authorities are required to provide by law. Collins and Newman, and the council CEO Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini, may therefore, face some serious questions about whether this withdrawal of the service, for “21 days or more”, means that Croydon Council has failed to fulfill its statutory duties.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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8 Responses to Binmageddon!: Veolia won’t empty the bins for three weeks

  1. But aren’t we lucky, to receive a “special, one off collection”? They make it sound like they are doing us a favour.

  2. Dave Scott says:

    Dear Mr Newman.

    Due to a reorganisation in my home and following a survey (my mate and a bloke walking down the street) to ‘improve’ the service I offer to you in the form of on time Council Tax payments every month, so you can indulge in pretending to know what you are doing, I am changing my payment method. Whilst this is happening there may be a period of 3 weeks or more when you don’t get a payment.

  3. Doesn’t the extra collection mean there won’t be a 21 day gap in collections? The average gap between collections will be 10.5 days (depending on old and new collection dates) which is better than the usual 2 weeks.

    • That’s not what Veolia say in their letter. And they ought to know.

      Our reading of it is that there’s unlikely to be any scheduled collection from Aug 27 until the week ending September 21.

      And that’s if all goes to plan.

      Sounds like #CroydonBinChaos

      • Chris Flynn says:

        I also interpreted it differently – i.e. the new timetable kicking in on 1st September leaves a one-off anomaly between the old and new timetables (for us, I think it means we’ll have a one-off ~4 days between collections!). This natural gap between different timetables is being bridged by a one-off collection.
        I agree bin collections are a state (my green bin still hasn’t arrived over a month after ordering…), but I don’t think this is a story…

        • The council letter is, for once, quite clear: “there will be a gap of 21 days or more”.

          There will be. It’s not an either/or.

          21 days or more.

          It is unequivocal.

          They are getting their excuses in first.

  4. Ebenezer Crutton says:

    Here in Carshalton, Veolia will also change the collections next month. Ours moves from Saturday to Monday. Their letter advises that they will collect food waste, paper and card on Saturday 1st AND Monday 3rd! Fortunately we have been spared the extra bins that Croydon residents have had to cope with.

  5. My interpretation of the letter was that some residents (those receiving one of the two versions of the letter) would be on a different two weekly cycle so their first ‘new’ collection would be the same as their last ‘old’ one. This would mean the other collection would have a three week interval. The 21 days doesn’t make sense as it doesn’t allow for changes of days (mine would have to be 23 days). The extra weekend collection would reduce this interval. That seems fair enough, albeit inconvenient for some.

    The problem I have with this is that the calendar I received clearly stated that our two week cycle was unchanged except for a one-off two day delay because the collection day had changed. I queried this on the phone and was told there had been a cockup with some calendars. So the calendar I received is either the wrong one or was printed with the wrong dates. Either that or I shouldn’t have received the letter. Who knows? I no longer know what my new collection schedule is.

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