Heritage bosses join protest over rubbish service

Grassmarket bins that have underground storage so that they never overflow. Picture Greg Macvean
Grassmarket bins that have underground storage so that they never overflow. Picture Greg Macvean
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Heritage chiefs today added their voices to criticism of the city council about overflowing bins and called for an urgent review of the rubbish collection system.

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust (EWHT), which is tasked with safeguarding the city’s historic fabric, said the council was not living up to the promises made when large communal bins were first brought in across large parts of the city centre.

EWHT director Adam Wilkinson said: “When the current system of large wheelie bins was introduced into the centre of Edinburgh, an agreed condition was that they be properly maintained and regularly emptied. It appears that standards have gradually slipped over the past few years.

“The effectiveness and frequency of the current service therefore needs to be urgently reviewed.

“Longer term, other solutions should be explored such as ‘undergrounding’ the bins as the council has done in the historic centres of Rome and Porto.”

There are already underground bins in the Grassmarket and some new housing developments.

Mr Wilkinson acknowledged such systems could be costly and difficult to introduce.

But he said: “The city has to think big about how it’s going to handle waste in future.

“The ultimate problem is you’re trying to service an infrastructure that is at best 200-years-old. It’s not designed for large rubbish bins and trucks. A lot of thought is needed on how you deal with rubbish in a big city with a historic fabric.”

The Evening News’ Bin Watch campaign is highlighting rubbish hotspots across the Capital.

City environment leader Lesley Hinds said the changes in rubbish collection had boosted recycling, but accepted there were problems in some places.

She said: “If there are areas where there are blackspots and bins overflowing we need to look at why that is. Are they not being picked up regularly enough? Are other people dumping material in them? Or do they need to be shifted?”

She said when communal bins were allocated, officials calculated how many residents will use each one and how much rubbish they will generate.

“If you have other people dumping stuff in it that becomes challenging and we need to look at how we solve that.”

Councillor Hinds said underground bins had been successful in other cities.

She said: “If there are areas we’re able to look at and get funding for we will look at underground bins. If we had a scheme in George Street, for example, could we look at putting underground collections in as part of that?”

But she added: “We should remember what we had before was black plastic bin bags which used to be ripped open and spilled all over the street. The situations now are like night and day.”