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Camden's latest recycling info

WHAT about the new recycling regime?

At local amenity group WHAT’s AGM last week, the thorny topic of rubbish was the theme. Following the departure of WHAT’s founder and long-time chair, Virigina Berridge, this was the first blooding of new co-chairs John Saynor and Mary Tucker.

John opened the presentation by saying that most attendees were keen recyclers (hopefully true). Therefore, is Camden’s main challenge to persuade those who don’t or won’t recycle to do a better job? Particularly in West Hampstead with a high turnover of renters.

Richard Bradbury, Camden’s head of recycling, gave a fast, well-rehearsed presentation with many slides. He emphasised that 85% of the contents of a Camden bin could be recycled, yet residents only manage 25%, which is pretty feeble whatever your political persuasion.

Richard proposed a outcome-focused plan to make the new rubbish contract a success: increased recycling, less fly-tipping, less contamination of recycling bins/better technology, educating the public, and flexible responses to specific problems. He handed out an update on what can be recycled.

Camden's latest recycling info

Camden’s latest recycling info

Then came a lively and productive Q&A session. From which we found out some of the details. We’ll get a leaflet telling us our fortnightly area dates for a whole year. People with babies need to pre-book extra nappy collections. We can now recycle black food trays. Shredded paper is acceptable, even though its fibres have been broken down. And there will be one-off collections for textiles and batteries (as well as large items), to be ordered via the website.

You can recycle so much that it goes onto two pages!

You can recycle so much that it goes onto two pages!

Technology to the rescue! There’ll be an app from which you can take photos of any problems and send to them to Veolia, the contractor. Vans will also have CCTV to check accuracy of collections with the footage saved for 3 months and to spot fly-tipping hotspots. The fly tipping penalty will be a fixed charge of £200 if Camden can actually get the right evidence. The whole thing sounded a bit “shop your neighbour”, though everyone at the meeting was too polite to say so – and maybe some neighbours deserve to be shopped?

The representatives from Veolia were surprised by all the exceptions residents raised. For instance, they could only say they’d ‘look at ways to contain the waste’ in response to Solent Road’s bag-ripping foxes. If you can’t get your recycling – or any – bin on or next to your pavement you’ll have to ring up and ask for an ‘assisted service’. This will presumably mean Veolia would exeed its allotted 15.6 seconds per property – which translates as “one step in”. If you currently have green or brown wheelie bins you’ll have to get stickers if you want to use your bins.

Green/garden waste will be collected weekly, but it’s £75 for a year or £60 for the nine months from spring to autumn. These collections (three sacks a week) can be shared with neighbours, but only if you pre-register. Pensioners will get a discount, though the details are still being decided.

Still ‘no’ to soft plastics like dry cleaners’ coverings and junk mail wrappers. Caddy liners? ‘They don’t last a fortnight. Change them weekly.’ Light bulbs won’t be collected. Rats? ’Keep your receptacle clean.’ (And ‘No comment’ to query about new commercial rubbish collectors springing up across Camden.)

It’s strange to think that it was only a few years ago that we were getting bi-weekly rubbish collections, and soon we will have only fortnightly. West Hampstead already has a rubbish problem, with regular fly tipping, although time banded collections on West End have improved things. We will have to see how things change with the new contract from – and you couldn’t make this up – 1st April.

Commercial rubbish is collected daily on West End Lane - though it's not always left correctly. Photo @Superfast72

Fortnightly waste collections for West Hampstead

At last night’s public Area Action Group meeting in West Hampstead, the council gave plenty of stats on Camden’s waste and recycling. But the numbers that will have stuck in most people’s minds were “once” and “every two weeks”, as councillor Meric Apak confirmed what we reported in August; namely that much (though not all) of West Hampstead will move to fortnightly residual waste collections from April 1st. No joke.

Recycling and food waste will still be collected weekly, and this is a clear attempt by Camden to both save money and boost dwindling recycling rates. On top of that, residents who want green waste collection will have to pay £75/year.

Although the turnout last night was down on previous meetings (perhaps due to the tube strike),  there was still a useful and lively discussion though there seemed little chance of the council and unenthused residents – at least those present – finding common ground.

The facts are stark: Camden deals with 46,000 tonnes of domestic residual waste a year but only 26% of waste is recycled – a proportion that’s actually fallen over time. Yet Camden’s estimate is that 85% of household waste is recyclable.

To prove a point, earlier in the day, Richard Bradbury, head of Camden’s Environmental Services, had collected 17 bags of domestic waste from West Hampstead properties. He didn’t go so far as to bring them with him to the meeting, but he had sorted these 17 bags into 5 bags of recyclable material, 4 bags of food waste and just 3 of residual waste. Five bags fewer in total, and only three of the 17 should have been heading to landfill (an 82% recycling rate).

In 2011/12, Camden residents recycled 33% of their waste, so why has this fallen to just 26% today (about the same level as in 2004), especially after the new green wheelie bin regime was introduced in 2012 to make recycling easier? Camden’s target for 2020 is 40%, but to reach this, the council is relying on an awful lot of stick and not much carrot. Camden is not alone – just over half of London boroughs have seen a decline in recycling rates over recent years.

The hope is that fortnightly collections will encourage people to recycle more as recycling will still be collected once a week. We shall see if that happens. Importantly, not all streets will move to fortnightly collections – only existing kerbside collections are affected. The maps below will help most people, but for precise details, contractor Veolia has a very useful and clear search function so you can see how you’ll be affected.

west-hampstead-rubbish

In West Hampstead and Fortune Green, some streets will still keep weekly collections. This is usually related to housing density and availability of space for bins. On the commercial strip of West End Lane, rubbish will still be collected daily, with residents being given enough bags for up to two collections a week.

fortune-green-rubbish

All the streets in South Hampstead will move to fortnightly collections.

swiss-cottage-rubbish

Commercial rubbish is collected daily on West End Lane - though it's not always left correctly. Photo @Superfast72

Commercial rubbish is collected daily on West End Lane – though it’s not always left correctly. Photo @Superfast72

Alongside the change to fortnighly collections, there will be (yet another) crackdown on fly-tipping with more investigation. The council clears 2,000 tonnes of fly-tipped waste a year (of which surely at least 1,990 tonnes comes from West Hampstead). The bin men won’t take black bags that don’t fit into your bin (in fact they’ll photograph them for evidence so when you ring up to complain they’ll tell you you exceeded your allowance), and apparently there’ll be a lot of ‘education’.

Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea wondered what will happen when Christmas comes around, or a birthday party, or someone moving, all of which generate extra waste. Residents will also receive new black bins.

There are a tonne of caveats and other minor changes. For example, there’ll be a free weekly nappy collection service available to households with children under the age of 2 1/2 who wear nappies. Read all about them on Camden’s website.

Egregious fly tipping on Mill Lane from August 2016. Photo @damawa42

Egregious fly tipping on Mill Lane from August 2016. Photo @damawa42

Questions from the public included whether Camden would be checking our waste (Camden wearily said “no” several times) and under what legislation we are required to recycle, the answer appeared to be none, though frankly – economics aside – it shouldn’t take legislation to get people to want to help minimize landfill. Some residents also pointed out that if Camden wanted to increase recycling it would help if it made it easier. There is also a contradiction between Camden’s policy of reducing car ownership and car use and the regular refrain of ‘you can take it to the Regis Road recycling centre’, when anyone enquires about recycling something slightly out of the ordinary… like a toaster.

What are your thoughts on this? Good incentive? Unworkable? Open to abuse? Time for people to take some responsibility for the environment? Let us know in the comments.

Fortnightly collection of residual waste - a glimpse of the future

Will fortnightly rubbish collection make us cleaner and greener?

It’s the middle of the summer holidays and Camden Council has announced (controversial) changes to waste collection. It’s yet another change after several over the past few years (e.g. switching from multi-stream to single stream recycling). But despite all these changes recent performance in terms of recycling has been poor.

In 2005 Camden beat the target of 25%, achieving… 25.2%! Woo hoo. Ten years later by 2015 this had crept up to… 26.3%, still well short of the 2020 target of 50%. That target is, however, an EU target so perhaps we should expect revised targets at some stage? However, at the current rate of improvement, 1% per decade, Camden is on course to reach the 50% target by 2255!

Changes to waste collection and recycling?

Changes to waste collection and recycling?

Camden ranks 333rd out of 352 councils across the country and 25th out of 32 among London councils for recycling. The councils at the top recycle 65% or more of their waste and even in London the best manage more than 40% (Ealing: 40.1%, Harrow: 45% and Bexley with an impressive 54%). At least Camden is doing better than Newham and Lewisham, both on 17%.

To up recycling rates – and to save money – Camden is proposing that ‘some households’ will switch to fortnightly rubbish collections of ‘residual’ waste. It is yet to specify which households this will affect, though it is understood that the south of the borough will still have weekly collections. Houses that have the space will be given a black wheelie bin and those that don’t will be given branded sacks. The Council will maintain weekly collections of food waste and dry recyclables across the borough. The theory is that this will encourage more recycling.

For those locals with gardens, Camden is introducing a charge (or tax as the local Tories have labelled it) for collecting garden waste: £60 for a nine-month ‘service’ and £75 for a 12-month ‘service’. It seems odd to discriminate against green waste; people are doing the right thing, flats and houses with gardens could well be in higher council tax bands already, and charging to dispose of green waste is likely to lead to more people simply disposing of the waste in the black bags (this will apparently be penalised, but it’s hard to see how). It could even lead to more gardens being paved over – not exactly part of the Green agenda.

Residents can take garden waste free of charge to Regis Road in Kentish Town or Hornsey Street (in Islington) but neither are local to West Hampstead and more car journeys is hardly environmentally friendly either.

Fortnightly collection of residual waste - a glimpse of the future

Fortnightly collection of residual waste – a glimpse of the future

Moving to fortnightly collections of general waste could lead to more fly-tipping – it’s certainly unlikely to lead to less. Fly-tipping and the poor state of our streets is already a serious problem in West Hampstead and was the number one issue raised in research for the NDP. There is a petition about the changes, but it has only had a few people sign it so far.

As the recent improvements to rubbish collection on West End Lane have shown, some parts of Camden Council are making progress and are effective at keeping the area cleaner. But if the challenge is to raise recycling levels and make Camden a greener, cleaner borough, it’s hard to see how these changes will achieve that.

West Hampstead street rubbish

A really rubbish article

West Hampstead street rubbish

No, not a slipping of standards, but an article on something dear to your hearts: rubbish on West End Lane. The amount of rubbish on our busy commercial streets was an issue raised repeatedly at Neighbourhood Development Forum meeting, but fell outside its scope. And the saga of the Sainsbury’s bin, remember that?, also captured the strength of local feelings. In a bid to clean up West Hampstead, Camden Council is introducing time-banded collections on the commercial parts of West End Lane and Fortune Green Road (but not Mill Lane, yet).

From the 6th June, commercial and residential waste can be put out only at certain times and will be collected shortly after. Twice a day on West End Lane and three times day on Fortune Green Road. Camden has told businesses and residents this is happening and has liaised with private contractors about it. The hope is that this education campaign, and the fact that it is their own best interests, will persuade businesses and residents to get in the habit of disposing of their waste correctly. Camden is taking a zero-tolerance approach and will issue fixed penalty notices to offenders but really hope that this is not necessary.

Time-banded collections are used elsewhere across the borough (Camden High Street, Kentish Town Road, Hampstead) to manage the problem of litter on busy commercial/retail areas, which are also residential areas (particularly with flats above shops). It seems to work elsewhere, so we are hopeful that introducing it on West End Lane and Fortune Green Road will improve the litter and fly tipping situation.

Blackburn Road has its own  problems. Will Camden extend the scheme?

Blackburn Road has its own problems. Will Camden extend the scheme?

The cause of the rubbish problem on our main streets is two fold, firstly commercial waste, which is generated by local shops and businesses. This can be collected by a number of contractors, not just Camden Council, which has little control over when other licensed waste collection companies collect their waste. So it could be there all day. It is also possible that some businesses are trying to avoid paying for waste collection and are just dumping their waste. That said you would think there was a fairly strong incentive for businesses, as they would presumably prefer their customers didn’t have to wade across mountains of trash – it is not really conducive to a pleasant retail environment.

Second problem, flats above shops generally lack any outside bin to store waste until a regular weekly collection (unlike those who live in purely residential streets). Residents therefore tend to leave tied-up supermarket bags of rubbish at random times of the day, seven days a week. These bags also seem to contain a large proportion of potentially and easily recyclable waste (bottles, can and plastic) which if recycled at, for example, the West End Green recycling centre, would reduced the amount of rubbish. Camden recycles 26% of its waste (by which of course I mean our waste) which is well short of the target of 40% by 2020. The North West London Waste authority NWLA, of which Camden is part, has an even higher target of 50% by 2020.

Here’s hoping for a cleaner and greener West Hampstead Life.

Veolia truck

xmastree2_ft

Recycle your Christmas tree in West Hampstead

The magical, twinkling glow of the Christmas tree can become an unbelievably depressing sight in the cold light of January once all the presents are unwrapped and pine needles are littering the carpet.

Step outside your house after Twelfth Night, and chances are the pavements will also be strewn with festive detritus, as already spotted by these locals:

How and where can you dispose of your Christmas tree responsibly? Just take it to one of Camden’s recycling drop-off points (full list here) between now and 16th January.

There are two in NW6: one on Fortune Green, and one at Kilburn Grange Park (Messina Avenue). There’s also a drop-off point on Netherhall Gardens if you’re the Finchley Road side of West Hampstead. On estates there might be a drop-off point too – check with the estate manager.

For one Fortune Green resident, Christmas tree ennui must have kicked in early, as captured in this snap by @photografter

Here's one I threw away earlier

Here’s one I threw away earlier

According to Camden’s website, Christmas trees will be recycled into paper, packaging and compost. A much more fitting end than carpeting the #whamp pavements.

West Hampstead’s rubbish

Over the past few months, rubbish has been the overriding issue in West Hampstead. First, there were teething problems with Camden’s new recycling and rubbish collection system.

@camdentalking just watched your bin lorry ignore some rubbish! Picked up some bags but not rest. No wonder @WHampstead reports bin problems
— Daniel W (@damawa42) August 27, 2013

Some problems remain with this, but the situation does seem to have improved. Not that everyone likes the new arrangement:

1 photo; 3 houses; 9 recycling bins – 5 in one garden! Unsightly. Glad I stuck with the boxes and bags. #WHampRubbish pic.twitter.com/8fbyZ1h2QP
— Steve (@SteveWHamp) August 2, 2013

The problem now – and what a problem – is fly-tipping. Camden has signs around the area threatening prosecution, but those seem to be idle threats and the problem’s getting worse.

Here’s what Minster Road’s recycling area is supposed to look like (taken 11am October 8th)

Photo via Richard Olszewski

Here’s what it’s looked like recently

Photo via Richard Olszewski

Photo via @mgscott

Photo via Richard Olszewski

This sort of “industrial-scale” waste is completely unacceptable. This looks like house clearance and builders’ waste material that they should be paying to have taken away, or drive to their nearest dump.

One might argue that at least this waste is being left by a recycling centre, and therefore it’s more likely that Camden will come along and collect it. There’s no such provision on Blackburn Road, however:

Photo via Bernadette Dear

Netherwood Street in Kilburn also suffers from business waste problems – this is nothing new, the day Kilburn flooded last summer, I took this photo on Netherwood Street.

Here’s a more recent picture:

Photo via Mr Wolf

Lib Dem council candidate James King has recently blogged about the problems in Kilburn ward. There’s one crucial paragraph:

Yet when a resident asked how many fines or prosecutions have been taken forward by Camden Council under the Environment Protection Act 1990 (as featured in the sorry ‘No Dumping’ sign), in Kilburn ward over the last few years, he was told ZERO.

One of the knock-on effects of the large-scale fly-tipping is that people… locals… start to think it’s acceptable to leave single items outside.

@Richard4FG @EugeneRegis @WHampstead yeah, leave it there, the council(-taxpayer) will dump it for you sir. Frognal pic.twitter.com/HVsppSmyV4
— John Mennis (@JfmJm) September 10, 2013

just dump it there – the council taxpayer @camdentalking will take it away. Saves you the bother #whampflytipping pic.twitter.com/UiUenGhEch
— John Mennis (@JfmJm) September 22, 2013

Very public convenience, Maygrove Road #westhampstead pic.twitter.com/n6TzDucRvQ
— Patrick (@rosanowski) October 10, 2013

The Guardian recently published an article and accompanying map of fly-tipping at the council level. Camden fared fairly badly placing 11th on the list of total incidents per 1,000 people, and 12th on the overall total (Newham and Southwark fare much worse). More interesting than the map is the data on actions taken. Nationwide, only 0.5% of incidents result in prosecutions, despite the fact that the success rate of those prosecutions is 99%.

Flick Rea, Fortune Green councillor, has written about the problem too. She concludes:

There are probably no easy answers – maybe the refuse people don’t care or they’re trying to do too much in too short a time, maybe they aren’t properly supervised either by their own bosses or by officers in Camden who are supposed to monitor the contract. Also it seems lots of people just don’t care where they leave their rubbish – smelly old mattresses, broken chairs etc. Whatever the reasons – our streets are definitely a mess!

There is though, she suggests, a light at the end of the rubbish-strewn tunnel:

Camden’s Street Environment Services have been re-organised, recruited new staff and hope that when they are all in place, things will improve and our streets will get to look a bit cleaner.

Lets hope so. Like all councils, Camden is strapped for cash at the moment, and street cleaning/refuse collections are often in the firing line for cuts. We should be thankful that we haven’t been reduced to fortnightly collections. Nevertheless, when there are so many flagrant fly-tipping abuses, it seems that a concerted effort to prosecute would help clear up the problem (and pay for itself in fines).

Meanwhile, if it’s all getting too much for you – never fear, Boris is here. The golden-haired mayor recently helpfully suggested we should all pitch in.

Problems with litter in your area? Try our free @CapitalCleanup kits http://t.co/rtknB6CARD @TeamLDN @projectdirt @GroundworkLON @McDonalds
— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) September 27, 2013

I’m all for a bit of community involvement in clearing up after ourselves, but I don’t think I can lug 20 bags of building material off to the tip thanks all the same Boris.

Recyclingleaflet

All in it together

It, in this case, is your blue bag, green box or green wheelie bin (very soon). Yes, it’s recycling news. Or perhaps that should be news about recycling!

New bins, new collection days and new recycling rules – it’s all change for West Hampstead’s eco-warriors as of the start of next week. You should have received a flyer through your door about this. What it doesn’t tell you – but I do below – is where it all ends up.

The old system of green box for mixed recyclables, a brown box for food waste and a blue bag for paper and card has come to an end (although in some streets it would appear it’s never been operational).

@WHampstead NEVER seen a blue bag on @MillLaneNW6— Daniel W (@damawa42) June 29, 2013

Over the next couple of weeks, Camden will be delivering green wheelie bins of various sizes to those of you who requested one from the form sent out earlier this year. You no longer need to separate paper & card from all the other recycling. Only food and garden waste will continue to be processed separately, everything else can be lumped together. Easy. All the details of the changes are here.

click for large version of what you can/can’t recycle now

It’s all been a bit of a headache for the council, however, as people pointed out that there simply wasn’t room outside their properties for another set of bins. Not everyone can be as parsimonious with their waste as local Carol Thomas, who was in the Ham & High this week claiming she only threw away a margarine tub’s worth of rubbish a week.

If we could all replicate Carol then we wouldn’t need the dustbins, but that’s not realistic for most people so instead we’ll have to manage with more containers. Camden has recognised this and will collect recycling from any of your existing bags and boxes if you don’t want a bin. Across the borough, only 8.7% of households chose not to receive a bin. Refuse collectors (or “bin men” if you’re me) won’t take away recycling boxes when they deliver the bins, but wheelie bins and/or boxes can be removed over the following weeks – just contact Camden to request this.

Next year, the council will be aligning recycling and street cleaning so that streets will be  cleaned in the 24 hours followed recycling and waste collection.

But where does it all go?
If you’re interested in where all your recycling ends up then I can tell you: Bywaters‘ enormous 9.2 acre recycling plant in the Lea Valley in east London. I went for a tour a few months ago – anyone can join these tours, just contact ku.vo1503039744g.ned1503039744mac@n1503039744edmac1503039744neerg1503039744.

I recommend it if you’re interested. The tour is noisy and dirty, but Bywaters’ guide was happy to answer any questions, and was upfront about the conditions their workers have to deal with and their low pay, as well as what happens to the bundles of sorted material. What I found interesting was how volatile the global market for recycled material is – one week they can be shipping material to China, the next week to Amsterdam depending on the price.

Changes to recycling

You may well have had a leaflet through your door recently about quite major changes to the way Camden handles recycling.

The council plans to do away with the always-disappearing blue bags and the never-quite-big-enough-for-all-my-wine-bottles green boxes and replace them next summer with one wheelie bin.

This bin will be the sole receptacle for paper, plastic and glass recycling. Food waste will conut in one place.

Apparently, “experience from other councils that have introduced wheelie bins shows that by providing additional storage capacity the amount of recycling increases.”

This is not hugely surprising – it is, after all, a bit of a faff to have to separate stuff out, especially for those who live in flats who might not have so much room for all the various bags and boxes and bins.

Camden is not rushing into this without checking with you lot though; specifically on the important matter of what size and what colour you want the bin to be. There are also some other data gathering questions about how much you like to recycle, whether it gives you a warm glow, that sort of thing.

They come in TWO sizes (gasp)

You can fill in the survey here.

If you have not received a letter, but would like to be considered for a wheelie bin, then you should definitely fill in the survey. Camden will then contact you about your request. There are also roadshows where you will be able to see the wheelie bins (it’s like the Olympic torch all over again) and ask questions. There are some brilliant questions already answered in an FAQ document. This tells you, for example, that you can hold on to your existing green box and perhaps keep your tools in it!

The nearest roadshows to us are:
Thursday October 25th 2pm-5pm, Kilburn library, 12-22 Kilburn High Road, NW6 5UH
Thursday November 1st 10.30am-1pm, Swiss Cottage library, 88 Avenue Road, NW3 3HA
Friday November 2nd 11.30am-2pm, West Hampstead library, Dennington Park Road, NW6 1AU.

Meanwhile, click the image below for a full-size reminder of what you can and can’t recycle.