Green Bins

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007. 3:00pm

Dear Cambridge City Council’s City Services Helpdesk,

I saw 12 broken green recycling bins while walking down Hale Avenue and Harvey Goodwin avenue in Cambridge this morning, I am attaching photographs of most of them.

Could you please let me know if you have any plans to replace these bins.

I am aware that I could phone you and ask you to replace my bin, but there is a more general problem.

Could you let me know if the council has done anything to stop this problem reoccurring or if any redress has been sought from the manufacturer of the bins?

I am aware that in some circumstances when the bins are collected and damaged the bin men note this and arrange for a new bin. Why does this not happen consistently, I am concerned that everyone is not getting the same service from the council.

Could you please copy any reply to my local councillor who have have cc’d on this email.

Many thanks,

Richard Taylor

I received the following reply:

Dear Mr Taylor

Thank you for your enquiry. The green waste recycling service was set up several years ago, and during that time suppliers of green bins have changed to obtain better value. We did receive a consignment that was faulty, and therefore split more easily, a couple of years ago. Redress has been sought and obtained from the manufacturer for this. Also the design fault which resulted in this problem has been rectified.

You are indeed right in saying that if you call, your bin will be replaced. We issue about 300 green bins a month on average, and about half of these are replacements of split bins. If a collection crew damage a bin in the course of emptying it, they will request a replacement. This is probably what you have seen.

These deliveries, together with the black and blue box deliveries, and recycling centre deliveries, are resourced by our waste and fleet team leaders from the collection crew staff. This presents an ongoing staffing challenge, and unfortunately it would not be possible at this stage to carry out a proactive green bin replacement programme.

I hope this has addressed your concerns, but if you have any further queries, please contact us.

Best wishes

Michele Spratt

Recycling Technician Waste & Fleet Management City Services Mill Road Cambridge CB1 2AZ

A few months after my letter the Cambridge Liberal Democrats wrote to all houses on the streets drawing attention to the fact free replacement bins were available. A few months after that Cllr Levy wrote in the Liberal Democrat newsletter saying he had been working with the residents of Hale Avenue and Harvey Goodwin Avenue to help them get their green bins replaced, presumably just referring to his letter. I would have pro-actively replaced the broken bins without requiring householders to individually take action. Broken (split) green bins cause problems which are not limited to individual houses.

However Cllr. Rhodri James disagrees, saying:

We replace them when people ask for replacements, but don’t go out looking for trouble.

10 comments/updates on “Green Bins

  1. Mike Fairbrother

    It seem that some councils are more aware than others when it comes to replacing broken Green Bins. I reported mine to our local council (South Kesteven in Lincolnshire moths ago and di not even get a reply. The hinge had broken and I even asked them to send a replacement and i would repair it myself. So much for the binmen reporting damages to the council !!!!

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

  3. Peter Roberts

    Dear Cllr Roberts

    There was one batch of faulty bins supplied at that time, and as far as I know we have not had any further faulty batches. Any bins supplied to residents from that batch which split and were returned to the council were brought back to the yard and replaced free of charge by that supplier, and also recycled.

    Currently any green bins we collect which are damaged beyond repair are replaced free of charge to the resident, and the council has them recycled and receives a small income for this.

    Vicky Lacey
    Recycling & Waste Communications Officer

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    So it appears the period when the supplier was replacing the bins free of charge to the council is over; it’s a pity the council didn’t encourage people to return their bins at that time.

    Currently it looks as if the public purse will be picking up the costs of the council’s failings.

    It looks as if those patching up their bins with duct-tape are doing the right thing and are saving public money; but they do have to consider the public health impact of leaving rotting food accessible to mice and rats too.

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