Cllr Caldwell gets answers on new 'bin hub' challenges

5 Oct 2022

Last week, Cllr Jack Caldwell submitted a deputation to the Transport and Environment Committe regarding the new communal bin / recycling hubs in Leith, Abbeyhill, Bonnington and Pilrig (plus Broughton, Canonmills and Hillside from 2023).

These are the new bins that typically have metal bars next to them.

Following the meeting, Jack said;

"I'm grateful to Councillor Scott Arthur, the Labour Transport and Environment Convenor, for allowing me to give this deputation. After disappointment that our Edinburgh Liberal Democrats amendment regarding new sitings in Bellevue was voted down at the last Committee, I'm glad to get cross-party support to review the challenges outlined below. In practical terms, I'll be monitoring how the Council log issues and resident feedback. Please report any overflowing bins on the Edinburgh Council website."

Deputation to the Transport and Environment committee on 6th October 2022, regarding Agenda Item 7.5.

I wish to raise some ‘learning experiences’ and ‘food for thought’ for both the Convenor and members of the Transport and Environment committee in regards to the nearly-completed rollout of Phase 1 of the Communal Bin Review across the communities of Leith, Pilrig, Bonnington and Abbeyhill. Although there are frustrations, I wish to preface this by thanking Officers for their engagement during the process which has been significant given the enormous task they were delegated from a previous iteration of the Transport and Environment committee. It is also significant due to the statutorily moderate range of powers delegated to them.

There are several items in the report which I believe need highlighted and addressed.

Decision-making process challenges

Phase 1 (existing bin rollout) engagement

Further engagement for Phase 1, outlined in 7.2, is welcome, but this report does not outline how residents, particularly in my ward where rollout began around a year ago, can engage and influence change through the correct channels. I hope particular consideration is given to this in the next report. Several residents have indicated to me that they feel their neighbourhood in Leith Walk ward has been treated as a trial for the rest of the city since rollout began in 2021, which I do not believe was the Council’s initial intention. I note that two community councils in my ward have played an important role at engaging officers at the early stage and believe any engagement mechanism should continue to include them. Again I am grateful to Officers who have attempted engagements under the current scheme and it’s constraints.

Appendix 3 currently states that only “If road safety or accessibility concerns are raised post implementation or post approval of the TRO, the location will be revised accordingly.”. Again, this does not take into account other reasonable concerns such as noise (ie glass), smell, or view for nearby properties, nor desired lines for pedestrians.

Phase 2 (upcoming bin rollout) engagement)

For future rollouts, section 7.3 states that ‘all feedback from the public on specific locations gathered through the TRO process is considered and accommodated where practicable and in accordance with the project’s parameters and criteria’, however it is difficult to justify that statement when the Transport and Environment committee on September 1st did not approve the change of any proposals due to non-vehicle traffic-related concerns.

Operational challenges

Regular collections

Sections 4.4 and 4.5 outline ‘more regular collections’, and while this has generally been a net positive upon the previous system, with collections occurring three times a week, when collections are missed, as has happened on several occasions in north Pilrig, it leaves residents with less options than before in terms of places to dispose of their waste and/or recycling. This provides greater challenges to residents when the whole route is impacted versus one individual bin-hub being missed.


There have been a large number of reports regarding flytipping next to the bins. Although I can only provide anecdotal evidence, I would suggest that the new bin hubs attract a large amount of flytipping. I appreciate there has been a new protocol with waste lorries now having reporting mechanisms in-cabs and new training for Cleansing officers to report flytipping en-route, but I would also request Transport and Environment committee examine the large number of flytipped items in bin-hubs and explore options to make uplifts easier for the end-user to mitigate the amount of furniture which is being collected by the Council (ie making uplifts free).

Recycling contamination

The last challenge I would ask Transport and Environment Committee to dutifully monitor is mixed-recycling contamination and what impact having different types of bins grouped together has had on contamination levels.

I am happy to answer any questions upon request.

Thanks and regards,

Councillor Jack Caldwell

Leith Walk ward (Scottish Liberal Democrat group)

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