diamond geezer

 Friday, June 16, 2017

Tower Hamlets once had a really poor recycling rate. Ten years ago only 12% of recyclable waste was recycled, against a national average of 31%, the main problem being that recycling from tower blocks is much harder than recycling from ground floor properties. The council's pink bag scheme, and a slew of positive publicity, helped to get the figures up.



Today the recycling rate is 28%, which is hugely better, if still not great. But the pink bag thing isn't going well.

Originally, Tower Hamlets council delivered a roll of pink bags to your door at regular intervals.
A few years ago the council stopped delivering pink bags to your door at regular intervals and you had to request them instead, either online or by phone. Someone then popped round and delivered some, just to the people who asked. This saved some money.
A couple of years ago they started sending out flimsier pink bags, which was fine if you only recycled cartons and tins, but the bags now tended to break if you filled them with newspapers or bottles. Never mind, this saved some more money.

Last year the council decided to stop sending out pink bags, and instead you had to go to your local Idea Store (i.e. library) to collect them. This saved even more money.
Unfortunately it saved too much money, because the updated system was excessively miserly. Pink bags were now only available at five of Tower Hamlets seven Idea Stores, and only during brief fortnightly slots. In Bow for example they were only available every other Monday, and only for three hours, either from 10am-1pm or 3pm-6pm. If you worked and didn't get home in time, you'd never be able to collect any pink bags at all. Still, this all saved plenty of money.
What's more, every time you turned up to collect pink bags, you had to show ID. Someone behind the counter then had to check your details online, and enter the type of ID you'd brought, and only then did you get your roll of bags. Collecting bags on behalf on another resident was strictly forbidden. This new procedure prevented the misuse of pink bags by residents who didn't need them, or local businesses trying to dispose of waste for free, but it created long queues and was bureaucratically insane. On the bright side, it had saved money.

Back in January thankfully the council saw sense and the procedure was changed. Pink bags are now available at all seven Idea Stores, not five. Pink bags are now available every Wednesday and Saturday, not just fortnightly. Pink bags are now available all day, not just for three hours. This saved face, if not money.
What's more you only have to flash your ID rather than it being scrutinised, and the librarian barely looks at it because she's sick of dishing out bags. Instead she simply reaches under the counter and picks out a roll of sacks and hands it over, sometimes at the same time as talking on the phone or serving another customer. This refocuses scant resources where they're most needed, making more efficient use of money.
I asked why it was pink bags were only available on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when obviously they were kept in a box under the counter all the time, and was told some rubbish about this "ensuring stocks were always available". I suspect the real reason is not to give away too many bags, i.e. to save more money.

The latest change is that the pink bags are no longer pink. Instead they're transparent, and fractionally flimsier, so it's even harder to fill them up with anything heavy. Also, we're now allowed to use any transparent bags, we don't have to use the council's, and they hope we won't, so this saves even more money.

In summary, flat-dwellers in Tower Hamlets are now having to make more of an effort to recycle stuff than they used to. This means less recycling takes place, but it also means the council gets to use fewer resources than before, so it saves money. This transfer of responsibility is very much in line with the way council services are going generally, as funding for non-essentials dries up and citizens are increasingly left to do their own thing. The pink bags were only the start.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream