Mixed Messages on Recycling Collections for Flats

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Acton resident Nina Battleday hit out at Ealing Council this week after problems with recycling finally became too much for her and she was told that she was 'not entitled' to recycling.

This comes the same week Ealing Council announced that they were rolling out a new recycling service to an extra 29,000 households across the borough and investing £256,000 in the extended service. The Council will continue to spend £327,000 every year to run the collections.

It was agreed that every flat and hard to access property in the borough will to benefit from an extended recycling collection service, to be phased in from November. The council is also taking on a dedicated flats recycling officer to maximise participation in the new services.

Councillor Sue Emment, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Services, said: "I’m delighted that we are now at a stage to enable all residents in flats to recycle. The good news is that people want to recycle so it’s important that we can provide the means for them to do so.”

However, Nina Battleday, who lives in a flat, has been struggling with the recycling system even though when the scheme started she was given bags for plastic and garden waste recycling. She told us: "I had no problems until recently, when I tried to get a replacement white bag. I was told that we shouldn't have been given them, and that the contractors had difficulty in collecting bags from the four or five people on the estate who recycle.

"I phoned [Ealing Council] to complain, and was told that as I live in a group of 48 flats we are not entitled to recycling. We have wheelie bins for paper, glass and tins and as flat dwellers we are not entitled to anything else. If we want to recycle plastic and garden waste we must take it to the recycling plant. This is impossible for me - I have arthritis, and no car."

This week, Nina was visited by an Ealing Council employee who made it very clear that funding does not permit full recycling of all areas. "She said that while she would look into the possibility of providing biodegradeable bags for garden waste, they could not collect plastic waste from us. That will have to go in the ordinary domestic waste bin.

"She also told me that there were access problems here - I told her that if the large domestic waste lorry could manage it I couldn't see that other lorries would have problems."

Nina says that she has written to Jason Stacey to complain, "Especially in view of his congratulatory issue of Around Ealing, and I will write to him, yet again, to complain about their lack of interest in collecting from flats.

"Obviously all this applies to countless other residents in the borough - I don't see why flat dwellers should be penalised in this way."

We have asked Ealing Council for their comments on whether this week's announcement will improve things for this disgruntled resident. A Council spokesman told us: "Our recycling rates are higher than ever and the council is always looking at ways to improve its service. In this case the resident has been issued with white sacks in error, and we apologise. We do not collect plastics from flats but this is something we hope to deliver in the future. We look at garden waste collection on a case by case basis. We hope that in the meantime the resident will continue to use the communal recycling facilities we already provide at her block of flats.”

However, this doesn't answer the question we asked Ealing Council which was: "Will this particular resident benefit from this week's announcement of the extension of recycling services to flats?"

Nina says: "I still feel that Ealing's promise of recycling for flats later this year is a bit wild and woolly - if there are access issues now they will not be improved by November, will they?  I still feel that as Ealing has a large proportion of flats they need to address this issue .  I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.  It's interesting to note that the recycling lorry is still collecting our plastics and garden waste - I suppose no one has told them about the access problem!"


July 22, 2009