paper recycling collections have been branded “not fit for purpose” – by the city’s own environment leader – amid complaints that one overflowing paper bank was not emptied for ten weeks.
Councillor Lesley Hinds said the situation was “unacceptable” and announced the council would consider bringing the service in-house or introducing performance-related contracts.
Her comments came after Colinton/Fairmilehead Conservative councillor Elaine Aitken told a full council meeting she had reported the paper bank at Oxgangs Broadway on several occasions and was told the failure to empty it was due to a “vehicle breakdown”.
Cllr Aitken said it had not been emptied for ten weeks. “I persisted and eventually that bank was emptied,” she said. “But I have since had to go back to them about another one. When you have overflowing banks it causes people to think again about recycling.”
She urged more stringent monitoring to make sure paper banks were emptied regularly and said future contracts should include penalties for failure to do so.
She also called for warning signs to explain that leaving bags of paper or other material next to recycling banks was classed as fly-tipping.
She said: “My concern is a lot of people will turn up with paper recycling and if the paper bank is full they will leave the bag with their papers at the side of the bin – but that’s fly-tipping and that incurs a fine.”
And she said full paper banks would mean less recycling. “If the paper bank is overflowing and you can’t deposit your paper, you would probably take it back and put it in the general waste which goes to landfill. Coming up to Christmas, when everyone has a lot of packaging and paper, it’s even more important the bins are kept available.”
Cllr Hinds said paper, glass and textile recycling was monitored and contractors were instructed to empty them weekly or fortnightly depending on the site.
But she said: “I have had complaints in my own ward. I think it is an unacceptable level of performance. We are looking at whether paper and glass should be brought in-house or should be made performance-related. What we have at the moment is not acceptable or fit for purpose.”
The city has 195 paper recycling banks, serviced by Palm Recycling Ltd on an annual contract, which was worth around £24,000 last year. There are 1934 glass recycling banks serviced by Viridor Waste Management Ltd at a cost of £75,000 last year.
A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of performance issues relating to communal glass and paper recycling collections, and are working with our existing contractors to ensure performance improves in the short term.”