EDINBURGH has run out of recycling bins as a result of demand from thousands of residents following the switch to fortnightly collections.
The city council has revealed more than 5000 people asked for red and blue boxes this month – five times the number on the same month last year.
They say an increase in demand was expected but that has “exceeded expectations”, and those without now face a wait until stocks are replenished.
Opposition politicians have slammed the situation, especially as the move to fortnightly collections was intended to encourage recycling.
It comes as rubbish continues to pile up across the city and a new deadline of this Sunday was set to clear the backlog.
The city council has blamed a change in the shift patterns of bin crews following the changes to collections for the delays.
Council environment leader Lesley Hinds, who had told the Evening News the bins backlog would be cleared by last weekend, said: “We asked people before this scheme, do you have your red and blue boxes and do you have your food waste bins? Because we were proactive we expected an increase but the increase in requests has been massive.
“We haven’t got this 100 per cent right so far but I am absolutely determined to get it right.”
However, city council Tory group leader councillor Jeremy Balfour believes that running low on stocks has “less to do with increased demand and more to do with poor forward planning”.
He said: “The lack of planning that we have witnessed following the introduction of this scheme is unacceptable.
“How are people supposed to get behind the new scheme when the whole thing is a mess? All of these things should have been put in place before the scheme’s launch on September 10.”
Arrangements are now being made to deliver food waste bins to city households.
However, those requesting garden waste bins will have to wait until mid-October.
Red and blue boxes are provided by council contractor, Palm Recycling, and it is understood that more boxes will be in stock by the end of next week.
It has also emerged that calls to the council’s hotline have doubled since the introduction of the scheme to 1600 calls a day as irate city residents flood the switchboard with complaints.
As a result, area teams have now been formed to act as point of contact for elected members, neighbourhood teams and the council’s own contact centre.
Two crews will be at their disposal to deal with priority issues.
The main complaints from city residents currently centre on communal bins.
Wilma Kelly, 62, of Craighall Road, has telephoned the contact centre every day this week to complain about the bins in her block of flats not being emptied in three weeks – as a result the chute is now backed up to the third floor. She said: “It’s ridiculous. There are 12 flats in this block and 25 in the one next door and neither has been emptied in three weeks.
“Every time I ring I’m fobbed off. The last time I called, the guy tried to persuade me that the rubbish had been emptied. I can assure you it hasn’t.”
Neil Tough, of Sunbury Place, added: “The bin store has not been emptied for three weeks. I have been calling the council since September 14 to get the bins emptied.
“The build-up of rubbish is a health hazard and the council are directly responsible for this.
“If we received this level of service from a private firm, we would quickly change supplier.”
Binmen are now running a rolling programme of collections to clear waste. Six contingency crews are supplementing normal crews to aid with the catch-up, while two smaller vehicles are assisting by clearing excess waste.
Cllr Hinds said she was confident the crews would hit the new deadline to clear the streets.
She said: “I’ll be extremely disappointed if by the beginning of next week we haven’t dealt with most of the challenges facing us. “There will always be isolated circumstances where someone’s bin is overflowing or someone is missed out but what we are aiming for is to get it as near to 100 per cent as possible.”
VOICE OF A REFUSE-NIK
IT is the inside track of the real story of clearing bins on Edinburgh’s streets … or maybe not.
A parody Twitter account – @edinburghbinman – has been set-up purportedly giving a refuse collector’s perspective on the chaos.
Describing himself as an “Edinburgh Cooncil Jobsworth”, he adds “ma joab’s rubbish, ken whit ah mean?”
Among the Tweets yesterday were:
“Aw these tweets aboot rubbish. Who’s gonna clean that up, eh? No me, for sure.”
“Ma bin’s nice and empty, cheers for askin. Ahll dae the others when ah get roond
tae it. Rome wisnae cleared in a day,
“Time tae hit Greggs. Ahll be sure tae pit ma rubbish in the bin. Hawhaw! #edinburghcouncil”
And as he grew in popularity: “Cheers tae ma new pals fir followin ehs. Your bins are next oan ma list.”
WHERE THE DELAYS ARE
The council say it is experiencing delays with collections carried out in half of the ten routes primarily affecting the western half of the city. They say these delays will result in bins being collected either later than anticipated on the scheduled day, or on the following day.
The council say only minor delays have been caused by “seasonal high volumes” of waste but the majority are being collected on time.
Individual green household bins
Delays caused by people leaving bins out on wrong days and new crews being unsure of correct pick-ups Inaccuracies on bin crew work sheets have since been updated and doors have been knocked on to remind people of new schedule.
Red and Blue Boxes
Residents without boxes can put items in cardboard boxes for collection on red box day and in plastic box or clear bags on red bag day. Route attendants also now handing out hessian sacks as an interim measure.
Side loading on-street bins
The council says delays have been caused by crews unfamiliar with routes and resurfacing works on Gorgie Road.
The council says it is seeing increased levels of recycling through this service, which has resulted in delays to collections. Temporary staff being used to meet demand.