Mak­ing the most

Do you won­der what hap­pens to the items you put in the re­cy­cling bin af­ter it gets col­lected? CAMILLA donned a high vis­i­bil­ity jacket and joined Chiltern’s re­cy­cling team to find out

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

IT HAS never been eas­ier for the peo­ple of Chiltern to re­cy­cle house­hold waste, thanks to the ser­vice that was in­tro­duced in the district last year. Vast im­prove­ments came about af­ter Chiltern and Wy­combe coun­cils agreed to a joint re­cy­cling and rub­bish col­lec­tion con­tract with Serco.

Be­fore the changes, house­hold­ers had to put out glass for re­cy­cling in one box and were given another box for pa­per and card­board.

Un­der the new set-up, more types of re­cy­cling ma­te­ri­als are col­lected, in­clud­ing gar­den waste, plas­tics, tex­tiles, bat­ter­ies and cans.

Most homes have a box for pa­per and card­board, a dark blue wheelie-bin for all other re­cy­cling items, a brown bin for food waste and a black wheelie bin for rub­bish des­tined for land fill.

Re­cy­cling col­lec­tions are fort­nightly, al­ter­nat­ing with rub­bish, and food waste is col­lected weekly. Res­i­dents can pay ex­tra for a gar­den waste bin, where they can put clip­pings, lawn­mow­ings and sweep­ings.

The aim is to re­cy­cle 60 per cent of house­hold waste across both coun­cil ar­eas by next year. They are al­ready on their way, with re­cy­cling rates up from 41 per cent to 48 per cent.

The lead con­tract man­ager for Serco, Mark Stur­geon, says peo­ple rarely give much thought to what hap­pens to re­cy­cling items af­ter they are col­lected from the doorstep.

“In the most part what hap­pens to the re­cy­cling is taken for granted,” he ex­plained. “Peo­ple put the waste into the con­tain­ers and no one re­ally thinks about what’s in­volved.”

I went along to meet the peo­ple at the Serco de­pot in Lon­don Road West, Amer­sham, on Thurs­day last week to find out more.

Chiltern has 12 teams based there – four which look af­ter re­cy­cling, four for refuse col­lec­tion and four for gar­den waste. The re­cy­cling and gar­den waste crews are made up of a driver and two load­ers and a refuse crew is a driver and three load­ers.

All Serco col­lec­tion staff have ex­ten­sive health and safety train­ing, to en­sure both the crews and pub­lic are kept safe while they are out on the road.

A typ­i­cal day for a crew starts at the Amer­sham de­pot at 6.45am, so they are ready to start col­lect­ing from homes at 7am.

All the ve­hi­cles have ra­dio track­ers so staff at the de­pot know where each col­lec­tion lorry is and where it has been. The ve­hi­cles will be fit­ted with tech­nol­ogy which will al­low crews to send back live re­ports to the de­pot, such as a prop­erty’s bin not be­ing put out for col­lec­tion. This will help the staff who an­swer phone in­quiries from the pub­lic and deal with com­plaints about col­lec­tions.

The crews’ routes are planned to cause min­i­mal dis­rup­tion but, in­evitably, some peo­ple will get stuck be­hind a ve­hi­cle for a few moments.

Mr Stur­geon said: “They’re not de­lib­er­ately putting the ve­hi­cle in your way or de­lib­er­ately an­noy­ing you. They’re just go­ing about their job the best way they can. We’re pro­vid­ing a very valu­able ser­vice col­lect­ing valu­able com­modi­ties. We’re not there to hack off any­one.”

The crews also have to put up with abuse from some un­happy house­hold­ers, but they are trained to al­ways be po­lite. The phones team also have to deal with some ag­gre­sive cus­tomers – with peo­ple even calling to com­plain about the colour of the bins.

The crews work in all weather con­di­tions and tend to fin­ish their shift back at the de­pot at 4.30pm. They give up some Satur­days and bank hol­i­days to make sure col­lec­tions are kept up with.

I went out with re­cy­cling and refuse man­ager Rob Wild, to see one of the teams in ac­tion in Lyn­ton Road, Che­sham.

Mr Wild is a for­mer pro­fes­sional foot­baller and played for New­cas­tle United when Kevin Kee­gan was club man­ager. He says the de­mands of the job tested even his fit­ness lev­els to the limit.

“I’d never been fit­ter,” he added. “They don’t hang around. They keep up a fast pace ei­ther run­ning or fast walk­ing and it gets you re­ally fit.”

He was not jok­ing. It was a strug­gle to keep up with the two load­ers as they col­lected Lyn­ton Road’s re­cy­cling on a scorch­ingly hot day, con­stantly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other to en­sure they did not miss a house­hold. It made me tired just watch­ing the pair.

The re­cy­cling bins had to be checked for in­cor­rect con­tents – such as pa­per in the mixed bin and glass in the pa­per and card box.

If a bin is ‘con­tam­i­nated’ it will not be emp­tied, to avoid the risk of ma­te­ri­als al­ready on the lorry be­ing af­fected. In such as case, the team leaves a note on the bin ex­plain­ing why it was not col­lected.

The re­cy­cling lor­ries have com­part­ments for the wheelie bin items and pa­per and card ma­te­ri­als and another for food waste. At the end of the day’s round, it’s back to the de­pot for un­load­ing.

There, the ve­hi­cle is weighed twice, when it ar­rives and af­ter it

PILED HIGH: A moun­tain of plas­tic items be­fore fur­ther sort­ing at the de­pot

IN Refuse man­ager Rob Wild (right) and Chiltern’s cabi­net mem­ber for waste and cus­tomer ser­vices, Coun­cil­lor Peter Martin pic­tured with Camilla Good­man

ON A ROUND: Crew mem­bers load­ing re­cy­cling ma­te­ri­als into their ve­hi­cle in Lyn­ton Road, Che­sham

Pho­tos by Viv

FIRST CHECK: A driver weigh­ing his loaded-up re­cy­cling ve­hi­cle on ar­rival at the de­pot in Lon­don Road West, Amer­sham


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