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Wheelie Bins Edinburgh : Architecture

Wheelie Bins – Waste, Rubbish & Containerisation in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Wheelie Bins

Wheelie Bins
Wheelie Bins: image supplied by Arcade Architects, Edinburgh

Wheelie Bins letter
issued to Edinburgh Contemporary Architecture

21 Jun 2003

The Editor, Edinburgh Evening News

Dear Sir


We note recent articles and correspondence from people protesting against the Council policy on containerisation of waste and its likely impact on their immediate environment.

Edinburgh Council
Edinburgh Wheelie Bins: image supplied by Arcade Architects, Edinburgh

Having had to ‘live’ with these bins for the last three years, we would echo every single one of their concerns many times over and take issue with those supporting the policy who have not had direct experience of them.

We have three bins located in front of our office which is in a side street on the south side of the city centre in a tenemental area. In fact because the two main streets on either side are bus routes and/or have cycleways there’s no room for containers so they have to sit in the side streets and people have to walk to them to deposit their rubbish. As a result our short street has a total of 9 containers.

Wheelie Bins, Edinburgh
Wheelie Bins Edinburgh: image supplied by Arcade Architects, Edinburgh

We complained at the time of their installation and were assured that they would solve the problem of rats, litter, random dumping of black bags, seagulls and all the rest. Not that we’d ever seen a rat or had a litter problem outside our office but, boy, do we have one now.

We have photographic evidence of the reality which is that we now have to manage a disgusting environment right on our doorstep. We’ve had armchairs, a wash basin, sheets of plywood… you name it…. Not to mention constant litter and people dumping black bags around the bins. It’s worst after the weekend. Last year someone dumped an old TV which was later thrown at our front door causing fairly severe damage. The other week someone left a dismantled wardrobe leaning against our frontage. When the bins were emptied on the Monday, the binmen left it behind and we were obliged to phone up to have it removed.

Looking round the city I don’t think we’re the only ones who have these problems. Complaints to Environmental Health and the local Councillor have got us nowhere and the irony is that as a business we’ll be prosecuted if we use these bins ourselves. We have to pay to have our own rubbish removed.

The fact is that this containerisation policy is ill thought out and should never have been implemented in tenemental areas. Black bags were not perfect but simply using stouter bags and uplifting them more often in tenemental areas would have solved most of the problems. Colour coded bags would have also have assisted the introduction of recycling which is surely going to be part of the next European directive on waste management.

Growing up in Edinburgh I recall separate wastepaper collections and the pigs van, so the Council has been there before. In those days of course fewer people had cars but environmentally it makes much more sense than obliging people to drive their own rubbish to the local recycling centre, which is itself a serious eyesore.

I also remember the late Walter Segal, the self-build and sustainability guru from Switzerland, giving a talk way back in the late 1960s in which he advocated kerbside presentation and uplift on particular days as a sophisticated means of dealing with waste management in a dense urban environment. Those of us from Edinburgh listened bemusedly as he extolled its virtues and he was equally astonished to discover that his ideas were already happening here! Sometimes we can teach others a thing or two and we undervalue our own worth.

We call on the Council to roll back this ridiculous policy of storing rubbish in containers in the streets. It was never going to work as a waste management strategy and it will ultimately create far more problems than it will ever solve. And it will be a disgrace if it is ever introduced into the World Heritage Site.

Yours faithfully

Alison Blamire, ARCADE Architects

News excerpt re Edinburgh Wheelie Bins:

Fruitless Wheelie Bin Exercise
A High Court judge has launched a savage attack on plans to introduce giant wheelie bins in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.
Dec 2003

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