Late technology delays Edinburgh bin improvements

The system uses satellites to plan bin lorry routes
The system uses satellites to plan bin lorry routes
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A NEW system which the council says will improve bin collections in the Capital is running a year behind schedule.

The “Routesmart” technology which uses satellite to help plan routes for bin lorries was meant to be introduced in February last year. But the roll-out did not begin until September and is now due to be completed in “early 2018”.

A report to the transport and environment committee blames a delay in the council signing off the project’s business case, a longer-than-expected manufacturing timescale and latest data protection requirements.

Routesmart also allows crews to use in-cab devices to report issues such as a bin overflowing. The technology was a key part of the council’s 65-point action plan to improve waste services drawn up in 2016 following persistent complaints about missed 
collections and overflowing bins. The report says 63 out of the 65 points in the action plan have now been delivered.

It highlights that complaints about missed collections in November and December were the lowest since August 2014, but acknowledges more needs to be done.

“The use of Routesmart in vehicles is expected to continue to reduce complaint levels,” it adds.

The technology has already been introduced for garden waste, landfill and mixed recycling collections, but not yet for food or glass collections.

It will in future be extended to cover the collection of communal wheelie bins and also the clearance of leaves in parks, cemeteries and green spaces.

And the report says the delay to Routesmart has held up planning of routes for street cleansing.

Tory transport and environment spokesman Nick Cook said Routesmart had been talked of as a key part of the answer to the city’s refuse collection problems.

He said: “There has been some improvement in waste collection, but when we see something which was meant to be transformative taking longer than anticipated it doesn’t show a waste collection service which the community can have confidence in.”

Green environment spokesman Steve Burgess said no-one should think that because 63 of the 65 action plan points had been met, there was no room for improvement in the waste collection service.

“Granted, there have been fewer complaints over recent months but councillors are still being contacted on a daily basis about missed collections, overflowing bins and fly-tipping. Although most of the initiatives in the waste improvement plan have been introduced, that’s very different from saying that’s the end of the matter.”

Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said the introduction of Routesmart marked a step-change in the way the council collected waste.

She said: “We are working to introduce Routesmart using a phased approach, and have already rolled the software out to most of our kerbside collection routes, with the remainder to be completed by spring.

“Throughout the process we have taken great care to make sure staff are thoroughly trained and that the technology is properly bedded-in.”