Edinburgh bin strikes: What are they and what can you do?

The city’s refuse workers have started a 12-day strike over pay disputes

Between 18th and 30th August, Edinburgh’s refuse workers will be striking over pay disputes between Unite the Union and GMB members and the Scottish council.

This is the first bin strike planned in Scotland, with a series of others scheduled to go ahead across the country in following days.

The bin strikes mean that no waste bins or recycling will be collected for 10 days from Edinburgh streets, and already the rubbish is piling up around the city.

Bins on Forrest Road

Edinburgh is currently hosting the Fringe festival, which sees hundreds-of-thousands of visitors coming to the city. This generates even more rubbish than usual, with mass flyposting taking place as performers advertise their shows.

On Sunday, volunteer street performers and festival staff went litter picking in an attempt to make the city tidier.

Edinburgh residents have been asked to store their rubbish indoors rather than taking it out onto the streets by council leaders.

This morning the director of Edinburgh’s conservation charity The Cockburn Association, Terry Levinthal, said on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “Until such time as the strike action is resolved, I think everybody has a part to play in this. People who live in the city have to manage their waste appropriately.

“Don’t put it out – there is no sense in putting it on the street.

“There is waste that you can store – inert waste like cardboard, that kind of stuff. You can find a corner in your house or flat to keep it. It’s that kind of management we need to get through this.”

While bins in Old Town are already massively overflowing, many of the bins around Marchmont and Newington are also already full.

Overflowing bins in The Meadows

What can you do to minimise waste build-up?

While it’s not pleasant having to keep rubbish bags inside your flat for ten days, there are a few things you can do to make the situation better.

Edinburgh flats are already known for having rodent residents, so it’s important to minimise attraction during the strikes.

Here are a few things you can do to minimise waste build-up:

1. Check your garden for a compost

One of the biggest concerns is what to do with food waste, so check your garden to see if there’s already a compost for food waste, or if there’s a place to start one.

If not, separate out what you really can’t keep in your flat and head out to find an emptier bin. The general litter bins around George Square and Bristo Square are still being emptied, so if you really need to throw certain things away, you can try there.

2. Squash, squash, squash

A lot of recycling like cardboard boxes and empty plastic bottles can be folded or squashed to minimise the amount of space your recycling takes up. This makes it easier to store in your flat for 10 days before it can go outside again.

Make sure you wash out cartons and bottles properly before squashing, and then you’ll have clean recycling that can be easily stored without attracting vermin or causing a smell.

3. Fill empty bottles and milk cartons for extra space

If you’re really struggling with places to store rubbish, you can actually squash a lot into a big plastic bottle or a milk carton.

This works especially well if you have smellier waste like empty pet food packets, as you can pack a load into a milk carton, put on the lid to contain the smell, and then store somewhere until the strikes are over.

4. Shop zero waste

Edinburgh has multiple zero waste stores, like The Refillery in Newington and The New Leaf Co-op in Marchmont.

To reduce waste build-up, why not buy zero waste products!

5. Check your blue paper bins

While it’s likely the green recycling bins are full, you might be able to find empty space in your street’s blue paper bins.

These are used much less by people, so separate out your paper rubbish and take that pile out to make some more space in your flat.

You’ll still have a lot of recycling left to store, but at least it’s something.

An empty paper bin versus a full green recycling bin in Marchmont

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