Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hackney Council Withdraws Door-To-Door Recycling

It takes a lot to shock me, especially when it comes to Hackney Council, but my gob was well and truly smacked when I got a letter through my door telling me that the Council is stopping door-to-door recycling on my and other estates.

Apparently, we now have to take our recycling to the bank of recycling bins on the other side of the estate. Problems:
  1. That's not so easy, for example for those of my neighbours who have mobility problems, or those who can't just 'pop out' with a big bag if they have babies or young children.
  2. You can only recycle paper, glass and tins at the recycling bank, whereas the door-to-door service additionally collects plastic containers, clothes, shoes, batteries and food waste.

The result will surely be a significant reduction in the amount of waste recycled in Hackney, with all those plastic milk bottles, old clothes etc now going in the bin and onwards to the landfill rather than in the recycling. The loss of food waste recycling is a further blow, as it has a proven effect of reducing rat and other vermin infestation on estates.

The Council's excuse? Two, actually: door-to-door collections were only a trial, and that trial has come to an end; and the boxes might possibly constitute a fire hazard in blocks with a single staircase.

Firstly, the whole point of trials, I should think, is to continue them if they are successful. According to the Hackney Homes website, these trials had a massively positive impact when they started, and there is no reason to believe that this did not carry on.

Secondly, the issue of fire hazard may be valid for some blocks, but it is no excuse for withdrawing door-to-door collections from street-level homes. Neither can I see that it is a reason to withdraw food waste recycling, as it would surprise me if the very small food waste box could realistically be considered an obstruction or a potential source of fire. It seems to be that the concerns expressed by the fire authorities have been taken by Hackney Council and used as a convenient pretext for a much larger withdrawal of recycling services.

I'm sure (not) that it is entirely coincidental that this move falls halfway between elections. Two years ago, Hackney Labour's election material boasted of its commitment to recycling with so much vigour that it seemed that little else mattered. It used recycling as its 'left flank' - so Hackney Council might be allowing estates to crumble, but hey, it was saving the planet with its super-human recycling efforts. With the next election a comfortable two years away, the planet-saving stuff can be allowed to slip. Maybe six months before the next election, they will restore door-to-door recycling and then boast in the election about how much they have increased recycling in the last year!

Two days after receiving the letter, I got my Hackney Homes magazine through the door, the front page of which reminded me to recycle as much as possible. I also remember that in March last year, recycling became compulsory for all street-level homes in Hackney. So Hackney Homes and the Council intend to browbeat us to recycle, but then take away our facility to do so.

What a waste.

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