Below are the notes of Daniel on a meeting with Veolia (waste collection company of Camden), Clarion (main housing association landlord in the area) and Camden Waste & Recycling managers.
Local resident, Acton Street
On Friday 22nd of April 2022, representatives of Camden, Veolia, Clarion and local residents met on Swinton Place to discuss rubbish collections and problems with waste dumping in Acton Street, Swinton Street and Swinton Place.
Camden will try to find individual solutions for Acton and Swinton Street Rubbish Collections, some of them tailored to individual addresses. A list of addresses by Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski, a local resident, and modified by Veolia manager Fraser Valdez is to be used as a template. Within the mix are up to three weekly collections and added bins.
Situation and Discussion
Residents pointed out that some of the addresses with multiple flats and no forecourts had nowhere to put rubbish. There was no space for bins. Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowskistressed that some of the residents from these addresses had asked him to highlight to Camden the problem, and that they wanted a solution.
Residents highlighted several hotspots where rubbish accumulates and is being dumped and demonstrated where rats would come from. Camden Recycling and Waste Manager Tim Gray noted some of these down.
For the first time in a long time, rats were roaming the area and accessed bin liner bags left on the streets. Some residents have now been charged a vermin-levy by Clarion, a first. Camden manager Tim Gray thought that this was a general London thing, but residents were assertive that rats in Acton and Swinton Street were a new feature that correlated with how rubbish was being dumped.
Amongst some residents, it was outlined, existed possible confusion about how rubbish was being collected and when. They were likely temporary rental residents (including students). Of course, as in all areas, there were also a few uncaring residents who just dumped waste. As the group talked, a man was caught in the act of dumping household rubbish. When challenged by Gray, he argued that he was not aware of how to dispose of the rubbish correctly. Anita Starling, area manager for Clarion, argued that due to the built nature of the current flats, only daily collections would solve the problem. Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski said that it was necessary to distance oneself from just blaming residents because the truth was that the apartments were small, collections few and residents were asked to collect and store rubbish in their tiny flats.
Camden said they regularly sent out teams to talk to residents and distribute educational information. Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski suggested that permanent signs/notices on public display on top of that, which stated collection days could maybe help.
It was highlighted that three bins distributed as a test on Acton Street had led to positive results in the case of two. Two bins were now accepted and being shared by different units of an address and used. One bin had not been accepted and stood in a corner. In front of another address were two household bin containers, which were being used, but none for recycling.
There was a sore point of discussion on lack of vision in the meeting when residents raised the solution of underground containers, hereby referred to as the “Amsterdam model.” Camden residents, argued it, failed to have a real vision of how to solve the collection of rubbish in areas such as the one discussed, It was highlighted by Tim Gray that other areas suffered similar challenges in the council. Residents pleaded that having seen how Amsterdam, many places in Spain or Greece had moved to underground containers, the streets there were much cleaner and free of rubbish. This is something they wanted too, and even the local Councillor Jonathan Simpson (not present due to workload), it was mentioned, was aware of that model. But Camden manager Tim Gray was at first laughing these suggestions off, arguing that it was perhaps possible, but like “man going to the moon,” and the Clarion area manager Anita Starling backing him up, claiming “this could only be done, if it was a national decision by the central government.” Residents rebutted this firmly because it was possible in economies far weaker than UK’s like Greece and Spain, and countered arguments by Gray that it could not be done because London streets were too narrow and had underground cables. Streets in Amsterdam were often even more narrow than London’s and, in part, even underwater and had possibly the same amount of cables underground. Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski argued that it was probably more the initial costs and the fragmented nature of how London is managed, with different councils solving rubbish in different ways and paid for by different budgets. However, as the discussion went on, it became clear that there exist some areas and estates in London, even Camden, where these solutions have already been installed, a point accepted by all.
General points on recycling and waste separation and the volume of recyclable waste were raised. It was noted that the area has several unused brown/green bin waste containers, some of them with general rubbish.
How Camden’s Teams work:
Residents also pointed out that when rubbish is reported as flytipping and the mobile collection team collects this rubbish. There must be links between the collection team and the Education Team. The education team should follow up because the collection of dumped rubbish by itself encouraged the dumping, making offenders believe that rubbish would be collected in that way, argued residents. Camden said that the education officer also got the alert when flytipping was reported, but improvements here were possible.
Camden is to contact individual addresses to check and agree on where bins can be added. Collections will be increased. The area already had two collections on Wednesday and another round on Saturday.