Edinburgh Council slap £50 fines on bin bag cheats

Offending residents will have their wheelie bin tagged
Offending residents will have their wheelie bin tagged
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A HARD-hitting team of inspectors are to slap fines on residents who leave out too much rubbish for binmen.

From today, full wheelie bins with bags left alongside them will have warnings plastered on them insisting that extra waste won’t be collected in future.

When the lorries roll back around two weeks later, if extra bags are left out, binmen will simply ignore them, before warning letters and eventually £50 fines for repeat offenders are dished out. A 12-strong team of environmental wardens will enforce the new rules.

City environment convener Lesley Hinds said the move was necessary to encourage recycling, minimise the amount of waste being sent to landfill and persuade residents to accept responsibility for their rubbish.

There were massive problems when the council moved from weekly to fortnightly collections of green bins – general household waste – last September, with numerous complaints about uncollected bins and piles of rubbish building up.

But Councillor Hinds said complaints had now returned to the same level as before the switch and more people were recycling.

“From this week, if there’s side waste next to the green bin, the binmen will pick that up but they will put a tag on the bin, asking if they need help with recycling,” she said.

“A fortnight later, your bin has been tagged, you’ve been offered help, if there is still side waste, the binmen will pick up the green bin, but they will leave the side waste.

“As time goes on, if they continue to do it, we will fine people,

“It’s all our responsibility to have less waste, recycle better and keep our streets clean.

“I think people are now up for recycling, they have got into the habit. What we want to do is go to the next phase.

“If you are a resident and do your best for the environment and you are doing all your recycling and you see your neighbour just dumping these black bags, people will say, they’re not making their contribution, why should I do this?”

Tory councillor Jason Rust, who represents Colinton/Fairmilehead, disputed the idea the problems over the switch fortnightly collections had largely been resolved. He said: “There may have been some improvement, but ther are still issues with the collections.

“It’s not great timing from a PR point of view to move to refusing to pick up extra waste when some people haven’t even been getting the rubbish in their bins lifted. I hope the council has looked into the costs of all this extra tagging and letters and so on.

“They might have been better to introduce it as a pilot in certain areas – they don’t have a very good record of doing a whole-city change on refuse.”

Green environment spokesman Chas Booth said they supported efforts to encourage people to send less waste for landfill, but thought the council could be doing more to promote recycling.

He said: “We would like to see a lot more carrot before the council starts introducing the stick.”

Council chiefs said they had always had a policy of not picking up extra waste beside bins or emptying overfilled bins, but it was relaxed during the changeover to fortnightly collections. Cllr Hinds said the council would take individual circumstances into account and a fixed penalty notice was not automatic – and even after a fine had been issued, an appeal process would be available.

She said: “It might be someone has two or three kids and doesn’t have a big enough bin. We’re going to be flexible.”

The environment wardens will also target trade waste bins left permanently on the pavement, Cllr Hinds said: “You can go into any shopping area in Edinburgh and there are trade waste bins blocking pavements all the way along the street. Environmental wardens will visit businesses and say, you’ve got this bin out on the street, it’s causing problems, where can you store it? How can we help you? Are you doing enough recycling?”