Thursday, 14 June 2012
Waste Recycling in Haringey
I reported here on Haringey council’s changes to refuse and recycling in the borough earlier this year. Basically, a new regime of waste collection is being rolled out across Haringey, whereby ‘residual’ waste (that put into black bags) is being reduced from weekly to fortnightly collection, but ‘dry’recyclables (paper, tins, plastics and glass), food and garden waste remain as before on weekly collection. Where garden space allows, 240 litre wheelie bins are being provided to aid the change in emphasis to recycling.
Veolia Environmental Services, the private contractor who won the bid to supply these services, has promised an increase in recycling rates from the current 25% to 40% by 2015, with an ‘aspiration’ to try to increase this further to 50%. The council says that early indications are that recycling rates have risen since the changes started to take place in March this year, although I’ve not been able to find the exact figures.
The local Lib Dems, desperate to tap into some sort of popularist issue to reverse their own unpopularity with residents, as demonstrated by their disastrous showing in the recent London Assembly elections, are waging a campaign against the new collection scheme. Just before the said elections, I received a copy of a Lib Dem leaflet through my door that had the headline, ‘ANGER at fortnightly refuse collection’. It went onto say that bins were overflowing (with one or two photos) which was increasing the amount of vermin in the borough.
I have to say, around my way, I have seen a few over stuffed bins, but by and large, the new system seems to have passed off remarkably smoothly. I have certainly not seen any ‘anger’ from residents, and can only assume that the Lib Dems are trying to whip something up, in the hope of profiting from it in the next council elections in 2014.
Haringey Green party is broadly in favour of the move to more recycling, as it reduces collection carbon emissions and reduces waste being sent to landfill, which is not only good for the environment, but saves the council (and council tax payers) money on landfill taxes levied by central government. I did raise fears that vermin might be problem after the introduction of the new system, and education of residents was the key to reducing this risk. I still think this very important, and is the only area that the Labour council has been remiss in, in this whole operation.
I recently did some work for the neighbouring London borough of Hackney, talking to residents there about (particularly) food recycling. I found most people interested in recycling and very willing to talk about the service. What I found was that many people didn’t understand how the system works for various reasons. One thing I came across was that many of the people who were worried about increased vermin, didn’t know that the food waste bins were lockable. They complained that foxes knocked them over, with food spilling out onto the street, and had given up on recycling food. A simple demonstration from me of how to lock the bins, brought surprise from these people and a promise to try the service again.
I really think Haringey should try this approach, it should pay for itself and more in landfill tax savings. Hackney has reported an early increase in over 30% of food waste recycling, so this kind of engagement with residents clearly works.