A CRACK team of council enforcers has been set up in an attempt to combat the scourge of illegal waste dumping by businesses.
Five specialist wardens and a team leader will inspect shops and dish out £200 fines to those caught chucking their rubbish on the street.
The filth-busting squad was formed just days after the Evening News first highlighted the Capital’s litter problem, and will also make sure businesses have a “trade waste contract” – proving they dispose of their refuse in the correct manner.
Those that don’t have a contract will be given just seven days to put one in place before facing prosecution.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, believes the “illegal disposal of trade waste” is one of the key issues causing communal bins to overflow.
City bosses stopped lifting business waste in July this year, forcing shops to find private collection companies.
But of the 35 premises visited in the last few days, only six could prove they had arrangements in place when asked – with 15 admitting they don’t have a contract at all.
The latest move comes on the back of the Evening News’ ongoing Bin Watch campaign, which aims to clean up the Capital’s streets. We’re asking for your pictures, examples and horror stories, so that we can pass them on to the council and put pressure on officials to sort them out.
Hundreds of readers have already been in touch to raise concerns about overflowing bins and litter-strewn pavements across the city.
The council’s new “waste compliance team” was set up on September 5, and will target well-known problem hotspots.
So far, three £200 fixed penalty notices have been issued to businesses for illegally dumping waste on the street.
Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the council needed to “enforce the rules sensibly”, prosecuting only “the chancers or outright criminals”.
He added: “Businesses need to make sure they’re complying with the new trade waste laws.
“And it’s only fair that, if our members have to fork out for a waste disposal contract, then so should any of their competitors trying to undercut them by flouting the rules.
“While we’re all in favour of clamping down on the cowboys, many businesses need help to comply with the rules – especially in a bustling city like Edinburgh full of small businesses.
“Earlier this year the council banned all businesses in the city from storing their bins anywhere in the street, so if a business such as a café has no access to a back yard or store room they have real difficulties.”
Figures show city officials are hit with complaints about missed or overflowing bins every ten minutes on average.
Cllr Hinds said: “Illegal disposal of trade waste is one of the challenges we face, which can cause some of our communal waste collection sites in the city to overflow.
“The team’s immediate focus is visiting commercial properties in areas that are served by communal bins to identify businesses that do not have legal agreements in place and are using our communal waste bins to dispose of their waste at the expense of the taxpayer.
“Businesses who have the correct certification in place and dispose of their waste appropriately are to be thanked.
“We have already made huge progress in reducing the amount of commercial waste being stored on public spaces by businesses and have seen the removal of 80 per cent of trade waste bins from the streets.”