Day in, day out, through fair weather and very often foul Angus Council’s legion of bin men and women are out collecting waste from around 55,000 properties.
Councilllors Jeanette Gaul and Ian McLaren went ‘on the rounds’ with waste teams recently to see what their job entailed at first-hand.
Both elected members were highly impressed by the commitment and hard work of the teams they accompanied and were left with no doubts as to the value of the service.
Their hands-on trip with the teams also made clear the role that residents can play in ensuring the service works and works well.
Councillor Gaul said: “It really is an invaluable service and one that, as service users, we perhaps take for granted.
“I want to thank our waste teams for all their hard work. It’s an excellent job they do, both as individuals and as a team.
“Some people might perceive that, in this age of dividing out our rubbish and recycling that the hard work is done by the time the wheelie bin is hooked to the back of the lorry, but that’s not the case.
“From the start of their shift, the team I was with was constantly on the move. It’s certainly not a job for the unfit!
“As day breaks, they are up and downhill alongside the lorry, shifting heavy bins back and forth. The driver ensures the bins are hooked up correctly and has to navigate some challenging streets and parked cars.
“They work very effectively as a team in all weathers. As residents we can help them by making sure the right bins are out on the right day at the right time. Please don’t leave black bags at the side of or on top of your bins. Take them to the recycling centre.
“And it’s no use wandering down the path in your pyjamas with the bin at the back of 7am. The teams have a tight schedule that they must stick to, so make sure your bin is out on the street before 7am or you could miss the collection.”
New kerbside collection arrangements were rolled out across Angus just over a year ago to help the drive towards the national target of recycling 60 per cent of all household waste by 2020. The amount of waste recycled since the new service started has increased significantly and people in Angus are now recycling more than half of their household waste.
Overall the council believes the public has been extremely supportive and adapted well to the new scheme and this has led to a reduction of around 40 per cent in the amount of general (non-recyclable) waste collected. This has helped to significantly reduce the council’s costs for landfill and incineration.
The cost of landfilling waste has increased significantly in recent years and costs £82.60 per tonne in landfill tax alone. Therefore, it makes economic as well as environmental sense to separate and recycle your waste.
Across Angus the local authority collects around 4000 tonnes of food waste per year, the equivalent to about 267 double decker buses. This food waste is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant where it is used to generate electricity and produce a digestate, which can be spread on the land as a fertiliser substitute.
Despite receiving a separate food collection, a recent study showed that food waste accounted for approximately 30 per cent of the content of household general waste bins in Angus.
Making sure the right waste goes in the right bin is very important.
Councillor McLaren said: “Checks earlier this year found that almost 50 per cent of what went in the purple bin (for non-recyclable waste), could have gone in the grey bin (dry recyclables) or the brown food caddy.
“The waste team I was with told me that they appreciate how most people are making every effort to dispose of their rubbish in the right way. But there is still room for improvement when it comes to contamination – in other words waste being put in the wrong bin.
“All we would ask is for people to look at what they are recycling and where they are putting it. It is an excellent service and by getting it right you can make a difference to the environment and the cost of this service.”