Recycling hotline was overwhelmed

PUBLISHED: 15:59 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

A HOTLINE set up to deal with queries went cold after an avalanche of complaints rubbishing St Albans District Council s new refuse and recycling service. There simply were not enough staff - or phones - available to deal with the hundreds of calls from u

A HOTLINE set up to deal with queries went cold after an avalanche of complaints rubbishing St Albans District Council's new refuse and recycling service.

There simply were not enough staff - or phones - available to deal with the hundreds of calls from unhappy residents.

But that won't happen when the next stage of changes happen in May, according to St Albans council's portfolio holder for environment Cllr Mike Ellis.

He said: "It was hard to know in advance how many people we would need to deal with teething troubles. What works well on paper doesn't always work well in practice."

Apart from making sure extra staff will be available to take calls, he is optimistic that the next round of changes will be implemented more smoothly.

He said: "The worst is over. We had to make big changes to rounds which even confused our contractors and then special arrangements had to be made for boundary collections which had to be negotiated."

Cllr Ellis says he is optimistic that the district will hit its Government target of 50 per cent of all waste to be recycled by 2012.

He said 35 per cent of all waste was the figure currently being recycled and praised the efforts of civic-minded citizens who had been keen to co-operate.

By the end of May everyone due to get a green wheeled bin should have one to be followed by the black wheeled bins in September.

A total of 46,000 wheeled bins will have been delivered at a cost of £700,000.

Areas which Cllr Ellis described as "blue brick" - especially in the Cathedral quarter - will not be getting the wheeled bins for reasons of space and aesthetics.

They will instead still be issued with black plastic bin bags or large kitchen caddies.

More than 70 per cent of all waste can be recycled but sites for composting waste in the county have proved difficult to find.

Instead food, paper, cardboard and green waste will be taken to a "bulking-up facility" in Cupids Green near Hemel Hempstead.

There, in an enclosed shed, the waste will be compacted and taken to be composted in Cambridgeshire.

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