Most of the time people speak of “the Council” in pretty adversarial tones, seeing it as a constipated local version of ‘Yes Minister’. At its bureaucratic worst, the jobsworth form-fillers can make mild-mannered ordinary folk dream of vile tortures for those who put them through the bureaucratic mill.
But, more often than not, the services are actually very good and none more so than Cleansing, who were the subject of a detailed report to a Review Committee this week. Not only do some 30,000 wheeliebins get emptied regular as clockwork but the amount of recycling going on here is just short of heroic. In fact, it’s as good a ‘win-win’ example of the Council and residents working together as you could wish for.
Ten years ago, East Lothian recycled barely 5% and 50,000 tonnes of annual rubbish went into landfill at Oxwellmains. By five years ago, when the blue/green boxes and brown bins went county-wide, we were up to 12% of the 52,000 tonnes. Thanks to Cleansing’s slick and reliable operation receiving whole-hearted support of residents across the county, those same figures last year were 42% and 38,000 tonnes. In other words, despite our growing population, we were throwing away 14,000 tonnes less each year.
That, in itself, is a green credential of which both council and customer should be proud. But, when you think that a landfill tax of £25 is levied on every tonne of waste buried (on top of actual cost of collection and dump fees), then—together—we’ve saving a whopping £350,000 each year. That’s like a 1% drop in your Council Tax or a dozen jobs. Doing the right thing is sometimes smart for any number of reasons; it’s not a load of rubbish.