Rubbish and Reycling Collection in Ely is Poor
THANKS to your reporter Catherine Atkinson for her discerning article last week ago about the Ely Waste Plan and the future of the Veolia recycling services. It is hard to exaggerate how important this issue is for the beauty and health of the city, not t
THANKS to your reporter Catherine Atkinson for her discerning article last week ago about the Ely Waste Plan and the future of the Veolia recycling services. It is hard to exaggerate how important this issue is for the beauty and health of the city, not to speak of the ecological future of our area, and country.
Our family has only just this last fortnight moved to Ely, and we were delighted to find that you still had a weekly rubbish collection and no ugly wheelie-bins, as well as regular and efficient collections of rubbish from public rubbish bins in the city.
However, the performance by Veolia is by contrast pathetic, incompetent, and wholly impracticable. No wonder this recycling service is not finding favour. Even following Veolia's (partly illiterate) instructions is a assignment that would defeat many; and the idea that folk living in small houses would store rotting organic waste for two whole weeks in a paper bag beggars belief.
We had a lively discussion in our family about this whole matter, and we offer the following ideas, based on our various recent experiences of bad
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(Oxford) and good (London, Berlin, Boston) alternatives:
n At all costs do not follow Cllr Allen's suggestion that rubbish collections move onto a fortnightly basis. This has been wholly disastrous and very unpopular in Oxford, where streets rapidly became strewn with piles of uncollected rubbish, toppled wheelie-bins, and piles of overflowing recycling materials. The rat population has grown exponentially and the health hazard in overcrowded areas, especially during the summer holidays, is very worrying.
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n Motivation for recycling has to come in other ways, including collecting the best ideas from a variety of sources. We suggest putting Veolia on notice and mounting a competition to suggest effective alternatives. Here are some of our ideas:
a. In Germany everyone separates their bio-degradable waste from other sorts of waste in a divided bin right in their kitchens. People are encouraged to have a compost bin in their garden (if they are lucky enough to have one); but both sorts of waste are collected each week by the city, in separate bags.
b. A wider range of recycling should be made available. In Boston one can recycle (e.g.) office paper without shredding it, all cardboard, and a much wider range of plastic containers than is possible here (yoghurt pots, meat packaging, margarine tubs, etc.) It is the fiddle of having to discern what can, and cannot, be put out in the bin that puts a lot of people off the whole scheme. The London Borough of Greenwich has invested in a machine that sorts all the recyclables, so that one can put all of them out each week. We suggest investigating this alternative, which is proving very effective in parts of London.
c. Most people do not have the space in their houses to hoard vast quantities of recyclables for up to two weeks. The bins provided are inadequate and do not even have lids. Consequently we take things back to Tesco every time we go there, two or three times a week. In Boston (USA) an incentive to return bottles and cans to the supermarket is provided by giving a tiny return on each item: you earn a few pence that then can be put to your next grocery bill. We suggest that every supermarket should have such an option and that well-monitored recycling stations should be much more widely available in the city.
We very much hope that Ely will provide a creative way through this dilemma. What we are seeing from Veolia is a very poor, ineffective, and expensive version of what could be done, and is being done, elsewhere.
CHIP and SARAH COAKLEY