Edinburgh recycling rates up but bins overflowing

Overflowing bins such as these in Lutton Place remain a problem for the city. Picture: Greg Macvean
Overflowing bins such as these in Lutton Place remain a problem for the city. Picture: Greg Macvean
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RECYCLING rates have hit record highs while complaints about overflowing bins are nose-diving as the move to fortnightly collections finally beds in, the News can reveal.

But while scaled back operations have helped reduce landfill deposits, critics say more needs to be done to stamp out eyesore rubbish piles beside communal bins and trash-topped litter cans.

A report into waste operations since collections were cut to once every fortnight last September shows the city has saved more than £1 million in landfill costs, with the proportion of refuse being recycled hitting an all-time high of 38 per cent. And despite serious teething problems last September – when tonnes of rubbish went uncollected, provoking a flood of complaints – the number of “total issues” blighting operations have now plummeted sharply.

Over four days in early February, incidents of “top-hatting” and excess rubbish dumped beside bins peaked at 4316, while for the same period in late April only 125 incidents were recorded.

Environment chiefs have praised the public for “embracing recycling” and acknowledged “issues” with communal bin collections.

Green Councillor Steve Burgess said uncollected rubbish was still an issue in several areas of the city.

He said: “While the number of reported bin problems is gradually reducing there are still a few hotspots where there are repeated problems of missed collections and overflowing rubbish.

“It is one of these issues that has an immediate impact on local quality of life so the council needs to keep improving its general collections and make sure it responds swiftly to hotspots and special events.”

The progress report comes one week after an outcry over the “appalling” amount of litter strewn across the city during the Edinburgh Marathon weekend.

Concerns were raised after overflowing bins were seen on Princes Street and Dundas Street during one of the Capital’s most prestigious events in a blunder dubbed “inexcusable” by Tory environment spokeswoman Joanna Mowat.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment convener, said: “I am very pleased that so many Edinburgh residents are embracing recycling, which is now at its highest rate ever.

“The number of overfilled bins has dropped drastically. However, there are some issues regarding communal bins. These are designed for the disposal of domestic household waste but there are instances of them being used inappropriately for large bulky items or trade waste and this is something that we are addressing through enforcement action.”