Waste collection service hit by 120 complaints every day

Rubbish problems continue to blight the Capital. Picture: Bill Henry
Rubbish problems continue to blight the Capital. Picture: Bill Henry
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MORE than 120 complaints are being made to the city council every day over uncollected rubbish.

The shock figure includes the failed pick-ups of household wheelie bins, recycling, food waste and on-street communal bins.

Between January and November last year, 40,662 complaints regarding waste collection were lodged – 95 per cent of which came from householders whose rubbish hadn’t been taken.

The figures, obtained by a freedom of information request, have revealed the highest number of waste complaints for four years – with the total soaring from 31,996 in the whole of 2014.

Green Party councillor Chas Booth said that day-to-day waste collection was falling short of what city residents expected.

He said: “The council has set the right direction of travel in trying to dramatically reduce the amount of waste which goes to landfill.

“Apart from anything else, to keep doing this costs council tax-payers millions in landfill tax – money that is not then available for vital services.

“But it is all very well to have the right policy.

“What really matters is the day-to-day service. And clearly, with 40,000 complaints, the day-to-day service is falling well short of what people expect. In the short term, the number of missed uplifts needs to be reduced significantly, with better vehicles and more accurate route control.

“But, in the long term, the big prize is being able to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first place.

“That is what will reduce the pressure. And that needs to start as much with shops and manufacturers as with the council.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, pointed out that of the 480,000 collections taking place in the city each week, only 0.2 per cent had led to complaints. She said: “Over the last three years we have been providing new recycling collections to make it easier for residents to recycle their household waste, leading to an increase in the number of collections we carry out.

“With approximately 480,000 collections taking place each week in the city, these customer complaints translates to roughly 0.2 per cent of collections.

“The new service has actually been a great success, with high levels of participation and increased amount of waste being recycled and less and less going to landfill.”

However, Scottish Conservatives Lothian MSP Cameron Buchanan said the city council should be embarrassed by the number of complaints.

He said: “The city council should be putting every effort into cleaning up our streets and not making Edinburgh a laughing stock as Europe’s dumping ground.

“Taxpayers fork out millions each year on council tax and the very least they deserve is an efficient waste collection service and clean streets.

“We are constantly being bombarded with Scottish Government adverts on waste but obviously these campaigns are not working.”

The figures don’t include complaints made about overflowing public bins in the Capital. The council came under fire in the summer as rubbish piled up the city’s streets during the festival season, prompting a string of complaints from tourists and locals.