Binmageddon!: Veolia to take until February for ‘tree-cycling’

Happy new year from Croydon Council

The annual Croydon festival of Stick Your Old Christmas Tree On The Pavement is all set to begin next week, with the prospect of it lasting for longer than in previous years.

Epiphany – the day to mark when the three wise men showed up at a stable in Palestine some time around 2,000 years ago and invented the baby shower – is on January 6, this coming Wednesday. And by tradition, all festive decorations, including the tree, are supposed to be taken down and boxed away, or the householders risk 12 months of bad luck (though most will look back on 2020 and think, “What could possibly be worse?”).

Croydon Council is again offering an excellently green service of collecting and chipping old trees (make the most of it: like the free bulky waste collection, it’s unlikely this will survive the cuts come 2022).

But the council’s rubbish contractors Veolia won’t be removing trees from the borough’s highways until January 18 – a full 12 days after the roadside forest of dead pines starts to appear.

January 18 is five days later than the service began in 2020 (January 13) and four later than in 2019 (January 14).

Going by previous annual calendars, Veolia might have been expected to begin its 2021 Christmas tree recycling service on January 11 – the first Monday after most decorations come down.

But in 2021, Croydon residents will have to wait until January 18 for the first full week when the bins collection returns to a “normal” service.

No one at the council has twigged (geddit?) that this means that the borough’s pavements will be littered with abandoned spruces, effectively council-endorsed seasonal fly-tipping, for an extra seven days. Worse, Veolia say that it could take up to two weeks for them to get round to collecting up all the discarded trees – almost taking us into February.

And to think Veolia had their contract value hiked by cash-strapped Croydon Council by £21million as recently as September 2020.

Some dumped trees sit around on Croydon streets for so long, they almost acquire the status of art installations

“It doesn’t make it a bad service per se,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.

“But it looks very much like no council official, such as the very well-paid and over-promoted Steve Iles, did anything as basic as check their diary when signing off on when Veolia should start the service.

“Along with the collection leaflet debacle, it is just more costly bungling.”

In a council press release, issued last month, the council said, “From January 18 we will also be offering you the chance to ‘tree-cycle’ by collecting your unwanted real Christmas trees for free. If you put your tree out from that date it will be collected within two weeks.”

The instructions to householders are clear and obvious enough: “Simply remove all the decorations and place your tree as close to the front boundary of your property as possible, making sure it is visible from the pavement, without blocking access or the pavement.” Of course, this would be terrific if it this in any way reflected reality. But in many cases, the trees will end up abandoned on the pavements.

If you don’t fancy clogging up the roadside, there is an alternative.

“Once the festivities are over,” said the council, “you can also take your real Christmas tree to be recycled at one of the council’s household reuse and recycling centres.” Make thee most of that while you can, too: the council is considering closing down at least one of the borough’s three dumps.

And, “If you subscribe to our garden waste collection service you can cut it up and put it in your garden waste bin.” In other words, do yourself the work that you pay the local authority to do for you. Anyone want to take any short odds-on bets on whether there will be an increase in fees for the green garden waste service? Nah, thought not…

About insidecroydon

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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12 Responses to Binmageddon!: Veolia to take until February for ‘tree-cycling’

  1. Maverick says:

    Nice to see that Captain “Numb Nuts “ Steve Iles hasn’t lowered his capabilities…not that he could not get them any lower. There is one thing you are taught in senior management …it’s called “ forward planning” then again , if you’ve been promoted over your capabilities you wouldn’t know that !

  2. Joe Clark says:

    Can’t really say i’m surprised. After all, Steve Iles is in charge, so it couldn’t possibly be done well could it!!

  3. Peter Bild says:

    Maverick and Joe – so accurate but unkind to blame Steve Iles for being …..errr …Steve Iles

  4. Joe Camel says:

    Honestly I don’t see what Thier delay is, this morning on oval road they took all household waste and recycling in the one truck as they always do. The trees could go in there too because it all goes to the incinerator doesn’t it!! I take the time as many do to separate and recycle my waste only for veolia to burn the lot of it. It’s a bloody disgrace.

  5. Jay Beck says:

    How is it that this chap Iles can get away with continuously failing at everything? If this was in a private company, he would have been sent packing with his tail between his legs long ago. Why is it acceptable for him to carry on in a public organisation, do the resident tax payers (who basically pay his wages) count for nothing?

    • Joe Clark says:

      Jay, this is what we have all been asking. More to the point, how on earth has this individual, landed a director role in the first place?

      • Maverick says:

        Joe, I’ve been saying this for a few years, unfortunately with Croydon Council qualifications count for nothing …it’s all about “ not what you know, it’s who you know”. I’ve been asking what qualifications this individual has to make him the right person for this role! I know he has NONE !

  6. Joe Clark says:

    Maverick, keep on chipping away my friend, hopefully the powers that be at central government will take action and get these no nothing chancers removed from their positions of power before they bail them out with a financial package. Why would the govt come to the rescue knowing these idiots are still in power, ready to waste even more money?

  7. Kevin Croucher says:

    After all that worry about the Christmas collection leaflets, there was no need to bother. We have been been waiting since Saturday for our general waste to be collected, they could have just told us to leave the bins out and they’ll collect them when they can. To be fair, many of the bins are full to overflowing, but that must have been predictable.

  8. taralittlestar says:

    I’ve had my tree out since the 17th and now 2 weekly collections have occurred but the tree is still there. Does anyone know how they are collecting it? Is it a special crew?

  9. Claire Kerr says:

    March 2nd … my Christmas tree is still outside my house. Same thing happened last year. Last year I messaged Veolia and they effectively said tough and I would need to get rid of it myself. I refused and left it and eventually it was taken some time in March, I think. Am just about to tweet them about it and will see if it gets removed any time soon. Sorry to my neighbours, as it’s been there since 18th January. But why do they say they’ll take them and then don’t.

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