Tackle issue of bins and waste bags on streets

Essential Edinburgh works with businesses to keep the area cleaner and more attractive
Essential Edinburgh works with businesses to keep the area cleaner and more attractive
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Capital businesses will be advised on compliance, says Andy Neal

The City Council’s desire to clean up the city centre’s streets – through improving the management of trade waste – brings positive benefits for residents, visitors and businesses. This objective is shared by Essential Edinburgh; we work with businesses to keep the area cleaner and more attractive with initiatives such as our “Clean Team”, hanging baskets and on-street flowers. It also follows that by making the area more attractive more visitors and locals will return to the city centre having had a great experience here.

We are also aware that setting targets is easy; the difficult job of finding compliant trade waste solutions rests with each individual business. Essential Edinburgh is seeking to ensure that all BID businesses get as much support as possible to enable them to meet the new rules as they are implemented.

As well as its detrimental impact on the streetscape, the presence of trade waste can lead to other environmental and public health concerns – we’ve all encountered black bags ripped open by seagulls and other animals.

For that reason, City of Edinburgh Council approved The Trade Waste Report recommendations recently, following trials at three city locations – including in Rose Street in the Business Improvement District.

The success of the trials, which also took in Leith Walk and the High Street, were measured by:

• A reduction in the number of trade waste containers on the streets;

• a reduction in trade waste derived litter on the streets;

• businesses managing their waste more responsibly and recycling more; and

• cost effectiveness, ie any costs associated with implementation will be offset by savings in street cleaning.

The trials were positive: there has been a significant reduction in the number of containers and bins. In Rose Street, bin numbers reduced from 390 to 103, Leith Walk from 116 to 12 and High Street 37 to 8, giving an average reduction of 81 per cent. This visible impact has been welcomed by local resident and equality groups which have noted positive changes to the streetscape and ease of movement. Drivers of delivery and trade waste vehicles have also acknowledged that the reduction in bins has made the Rose Street Lanes far easier to manoeuvre round.

These improvements would not have been possible without the support of the businesses involved, all of whom needed to find their own solutions and make the necessary arrangements with their waste management contractor.

An independent survey of the BID area was commissioned by Essential Edinburgh, and carried out by Keep Scotland Beautiful in July 2014. This noted that, although trade waste was still a major factor impacting on the cleanliness of the area, there was evidence of improvement.

Essential Edinburgh is working with Changeworks Recycling (the preferred BID trade waste contractor following a re-tender earlier this year) who can offer a tailored solution for every business.

Over the coming months Essential Edinburgh and Changeworks Recycling will be holding business events to explain the changes and help find solutions that work for each business. Richard Dryburgh, Changeworks’ dedicated Business Advisor for the BID area, will also be available to go into businesses and chat through the implications of the changes for them as well as offering a tailored solution.

Over 95 per cent of Changeworks’ clients in the BID area don’t have external bins on the street. By using their in-house collection service businesses can avoid the one hour collection window and potential fines. Changeworks work with clients to find solutions to storage issues, their “little and often” collection service removes the need for businesses to have general waste or recycling bins. McDonalds on Princes Street has been impressed by the service provided, with no on street containers and making their system more efficient they have reduced their waste costs by 35 per cent. Lush Spa is achieving 85 per cent recycling rates saving 50 per cent on their previous waste contract.

So, the detail of the planned new arrangements:

Businesses which wish to continue using public space to facilitate their waste disposal can only do so under certain conditions:

• Permitted presentation times when waste can be put out on-street will be standardised across the city: 9:30am–noon; 2-4pm; and 6:30-11pm.

• Within these presentation times, waste would only be permitted on-street for up to one hour but otherwise must be retained on the business premises until it is due for collection.

• Waste can only be on-street when the business is staffed and never overnight.

• Waste placed on street for collection must be clearly marked with the business name and agreed collection time.

• Waste containers must be placed as near to the edge of a business’s property as is possible, whilst retaining clear pedestrian access. It will no longer be appropriate for business waste to be stored remotely from the business premises.

• Food and glass waste must be presented in a secure, sealed container.

Removing unsightly bins and bagged waste from the city centre streets and working together to improve the environment for locals, businesses and visitors to the city centre is an aim everyone shares. The new approach sets a good target and a framework to deliver it but the hard work starts now. Essential Edinburgh and its partner Changeworks will inform and advise on how each business can become compliant, but in a way that best fits with its location, opening hours and style of business.

• Andy Neal is chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, www.essentialedinburgh.co.uk