Bins in Ealing leave Acton residents green with envy

Recycling residents are faced with rubbish problem


Morrisons newspaper recycling

Morrisons' newspaper recycling skips (nul points)

waitrose recycling facility

Waitrose recycling bins (10 out of 10)

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The extension of Ealing Council's recycling activities has been welcomed by residents and, according to reports, the Council's recycling rate has increased by a third to 26% of household waste collected. Families are being encouraged to increase recycled waste and reduce the amount of rubbish they create.

Household collections are, however, problematical for people who live in flats. Flat-dwellers have been pointing out on the W3 Forum how difficult it is for them to deal with their refuse.

In Acton there are not many recycling facilities available to use and some of those that exist are problematical. Morrisons car park, easily accessible to residents, has an area allocated for Ealing Council bins for recycling paper, bottles and a charity bin for old clothes.

I visited it this week to see for myself why people complain of the facility at Morrisons being "a bit messy" with paper skips full up. The area was not a pretty sight. (see photo, right). Morrisons' recycling policy is to provide, wherever possible, an area in the car park for local councils and charities to use for recycling. They say "it is up to the councils and charities concerned to manage these areas". Morrisons say if a recycling area isn't up to scratch, then they would have to speak to the local council and increase the number of collections. They also told me they are looking into the problems with the Acton site as it is "not in their interests to have an area that looks disgusting".

If Ealing Council want experience of excellent recycling facilities, they need look no further than the facility they themselves manage at Waitrose in West Ealing. David Parkin the Branch Manager is also Chair of Ealing Centre Partnership Regeneration. He told me how the specially designed recycling facility there works. "Waitrose provided the land and capital cost and put in the recycling area. We provided and installed the bins, plus we also paid for a new lift-arm for the recycling lorry. The only requirement from Ealing is to keep the area clear". He is aware that the facility is not without its problems, "From time to time over bank holidays and certain weekends there are issues".

At Waitrose, certain items such as plastics need to be picked up daily. Mr Parkin told me that he and the staff are on the phone to the Council if any of the bins is full. Waitrose take their responsibilities as a part of the community very seriously. After all, it is supermarkets who produce all this problematical packaging. The difference in attitude between the two companies is startling. Acton residents view those attractive Waitrose bins with envy.

Household collections are generally good in Ealing and improving all the time. Flat-dwellers, however, need good local rubbish and recycling facilities. The Stirling Road Re-use and Re-cycling facility in South Acton is generally well-run, but inaccessible for many. The facility at Crown Street is reported as "always overflowing". Keen recyclers are going from one facility to another because recycling for plastics and plastic bags is not provided everywhere. Others even take their refuse to work with them as councils like Westminster and Hammersmith have better facilities.

Residents who cannot store rubbish and recycling need somewhere to store it, or somewhere they can easily take rubbish when needed. Such sites need to be as attractive as possible and easy to use. If they are not emptied regularly, they become part of the litter problem. The stark contrast between one supermarket facility and another is surely enough to make the Council realise what can be done when companies which create part of the problem (packaging) take their responsibilities seriously.

When I asked Ealing Council to comment on this, Neil Dhot, Head of Communications said:

"We regret recent problems at the Morrision recycling bank and are taking steps to resolve matters including employing a new contractor for paper recycling. Last week branches were pruned at the Morrison site to make it easier for our contractors Abitibi (a French-owned company and not ECT Recycling), to collect paper from the site. The site was checked yesterday (26 September) by our recycling team and was clean and tidy. However, if people do experience any problems with any of our recycling facilities we would urge them to contact our customer call centre on 020 8825 6000."

Neil says the offending branches were cut back last week so the problem should now be resolved.

The Council plan to terminate the overall contract with Abitibi due to substandard collection performance. People should notice a change for the better in the coming weeks.

He said that the Crown St facility now looks immaculate. "It may be that paper occasionally left next to the site is put there by commercial users. ECT do empty the facility weekly and visit the site daily to cleanse if need be. Any fly-tipping should be reported as above."

The Council has have funding to add another 7 neighbourhood sites boroughwide but to areas not currently served. There is no news about an extension of plastics recycling - South Acton remains the only place which takes hard plastic (see for further details).

He also added that Ealing Council is "currently carrying out a review of recycling facilities to
flats to see how we can improve servies. Please note we do run estate recycling services to people living on council estates with paper, cans and glass recycling all provided."

No doubt this will be one of the issues which comes up at the meeting in Acton Town Hall. It is good that steps are being taken to improve the situation.  As Ealing Council have to manage these recycling facilities, perhaps they could take the lead and give incentives to supermarkets like Waitrose which make recycling a happy experience, providing an attractive, useful local amenity - and get tough on others who appear to think that recycling is nothing to do with them.

Clare Gittins

October 3, 2006