Today the Tory group on Ealing council has written to the Mayor demanding an extraordinary council meeting to examine the waste and re-cycling contract which has blown up so spectacularly in the councilâ€™s face over the course of April. It is likely that this meeting will take place on Tuesday 8th May at 7pm.
Over the last two weeks or so thousands of Ealing residents have been inconvenienced by this botched contract. Between the council and their new contractor there has been a massive failure. Yet again the leader of the council has had to take over and involve himself in the detailed working of another part of the council.
Hopefully the waste service will regain its equilibrium quickly. I fear that long term damage will have been done though to our re-cycling rates after people have seen their carefully sorted re-cycling shoved into what looks like a regular garbage truck or one of those cage trucks. The council says that this mixed, dry re-cycling is all going to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or Murf).
We all hope that is true but a MRF is not magic. Man or machine has to sort the waste that Ealing residents have already put a huge effort into sorting. This costs money, reduces the value of the waste stream and ensures that more goes to landfill. It will be hard for the council to insist that residents resume this work once they have seen the councilâ€™s contractor just chuck it all in the back of a lorry. Even harder to persuade new people to take up re-cycling.
The council relies on the massive goodwill of Ealingâ€™s residents to achieve high re-cycling rates, achieve high prices for its waste streams and minimise landfill and rising landfill taxes. Many of us spend at least half an hour a week sorting it all out to say nothing of the large amount of space that this cottage industry takes up in our kitchens, garages, sheds and/or gardens. The last few weeks will made many question why they bother. I hope that they will bother but the council must demonstrate that it values the contribution of residents. Seeing staff insolently flinging residents’ containers back at their front gates doesnâ€™t help.