Beyond the Blue Bin

MRF, PeterboroughStarting 16th November, Viridor will be handling the recycling materials    from Cambridge blue bins.

Cambridge blue bins are the place to throw all your dry recyclables —   cardboard, paper, aluminium and steel cans, Tetrapaks, glass,   aerosols and plastic bottles.

On Tuesday 10th November, five city councillors, three City Rangers, two customer services staff and Vicky Kelso, from the Council’s recycling team, visited the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) – pronounced ‘Murf’ by those close to it – at Fengate, Peterborough, which is operated by Viridor, one of the UK’s leading recycling companies, and owned by Peterborough City Council.

We were briefed about the facility’s operations in the Viridor Education Room, suitably bright and green with information boards, new items such as pencils and mugs made out of recyclables and material samples, before donning blue hats, yellow tabards and microphone for a tour of the works.

We were given the fire instructions and warned not to wander from the official tour route. The thought of ending up in a pencil or a coffee mug was enough to concentrate my mind!

First, we went to the Pre-sort Cabin and saw conveyor belts with a broad mix of material, including some that should not have gone in the recycling bins in the first place.

Several people were grabbing large pieces of cardboard and non-recyclable waste from the line rather in the manner of snatching suitcases from a luggage belt at the airport (should you be ungreen enough to fly in these carbon-aware times).

One of the big problems is people putting their recycling into plastic bags before they go into bins and there was also all sorts of other stuff to extract.

There were plenty of nappies which cannot be recycled and should go into general waste – or even better they could be avoided by using washable cloth nappies.

Next came the Trommel, a large spinning drum which sorts the rubbish by size.

I had been wondering how the bottles and cans would part company with the paper. In the Ballistics section, flat paper rises to the surface, while cylindrical objects such as bottles and cans roll to the bottom.

Next, steel cans come out and aluminium is separated from steel by the clever use of magnetic attraction and repulsion. By this stage my school physics lessons were coming back to me…

Plastic materials were detected by an optical sorter and blown into a bunker and finally, the various materials were fed into a baler for crushing and wiring.

To see the processes for yourself, see Viridor’s MURF video on their own website.

The new system has been introduced to increase Cambridge recycling rates, and we are hoping to reach our target of recycling 45% of household waste by April 2010.

It is important we all keep our recyclables clean and only put the right items into our new blue bin to ensure everyone’s recycling efforts result in quality raw materials for new products.

For more information about what to put in the bins, see the Cambridge City Council website, which has detailed instructions on what you can put in your blue bin and on the collection schedule.

November bus changes

I have been notified* of changes to Stagecoach and Whippet bus services from Sunday 29 November 2009. The table shows which services are changing and the impact of that change. Bus changes No 09

One change that affects us is to the Citi 1 and Citi 2 routes. The Citi 1 will now go down Queen Edith’s Way not Wulfstan Way, while the Citi 2 will go down Wulfstan Way instead of Queen Edith’s Way. The Citi 2 will also reduce to one bus every 15 minutes, so residents of Wulfstan Way and the Gunhild Estate will have a less frequent service.

The Citi 7 and 2 will also reduce to a 15-minute frequency, instead of 10.

Above, I used the word ‘notified’ not consulted because I wasn’t! But I am of course very willing to pass on comments and make views known before the changes take effect.

Waiting at the bus stop … for the time display, not the bus!

The real time information display at the bus stop near Hills Road VI Form College has been out of action for some time, meaning people have to walk down to the next bus stop to find out whether there’s a bus due.

I reported this to the County Council on the 12th September, and so did two of our Focus deliverers. A response has been a long time coming!

It transpires that there has been a power failure to the shelter, which has burnt the fuses. What alarms me is that neither the City nor County Council had staff available and able to repair it – which is the main reason for the delay.

 See my latest mail from the County Council, which promises a remedy soon.

Dear Cllr Taylor,  Apologies for the delay in getting this display up and running. Our
contractor’s engineers did inspect the site almost immediately. It was found that there
was a power failure to the shelter, which has burnt the main fuse to both the shelter and the display. Because this is not part of the display’s circuitry, our contractors were
neither able nor authorized to replace the fuse.  I have since then been in contact with
the Street Lighting team at the council, who as well is not responsible for power to
shelters, and we have sourced a certified electrician to do the job. I am expecting that
they will visit the shelter sometime next week, and let me know what the outcome is.
Hopefully this should be sorted out next week, but if there are any further delays, I will
let you know.

Area meeting — presentation on the new ‘Blue Bin’ recycling scheme


The Lib Dem City Council has divided Cambridge into four areas so that local issues can be determined locally. The area meetings decide on smaller planning applications and environmental, leisure and community grants as well as other issues, including policing priorities. These meetings are open to the public.

blue-bin.gifThe South Area covers Queen Edith’s, Cherry Hinton and Trumpington and usually meets from 7pm on Thursdays in Queen Edith’s.  The next meeting is this Thursday at Hills Road VI Form College and will include a presentation on the new recycling arrangements coming in this autumn.

If you can’t come along but would like me to raise an issue on your behalf, please let me know.

Here is an agenda:

Smoking medics’ mess

I have recently received fresh complaints about litter and disturbance caused by Addenbrooke’s staff on the streets near the hospital.

Although staff were given a smoking area after complaints when the hospital site went smoke-free, they continue to gather in neighbouring streets to smoke.

 Residents of Greenlands and Red Cross Lane have been in touch with me to say they are getting fed up of the litter left behind – plastic cups and sandwich wrappers as well as smoking-related detritus such as cigarette ends, as well as the general disturbance of having people chatting just outside their homes.

I have asked the hospital’s director in charge of the site if he can request staff not to impose on local residents in this way.

 Update: see latest post.

Library Garden Big Dig – 12th September

Dig It on the 12th

I was first contacted about the land behind Rock Road Library by Lucy King, a pupil from Morley School, asking if she could turn into a proper garden. She not only sent me a hand-coloured picture of her vision of a garden but offered her labour and that of her friends too. I don’t get many letters from people of that age, so it has great to help her turn her dream into reality. 

A few more gardeners later, all from the local community, and support from both City and County Councils amongst others and I am pleased to say it’s now happening. They have relaunched the ‘Friends of Rock Road Library’ and will be running community events as well as creating a garden.

There is a mixture of schoolchildren from Lucy’s class and from Spectrum, Morley’s After-School Club, local residents and businesses.

A generous garden centre has already offered help and a landscape architect has worked with the Friends to draw up plans. You can see them on the Friends noticeboard as you enter the library.

The first digging session is on 12th September – if you’d like to join in, contact Jane Elliott — chair of the Friends’ Group and Head Gardener — on 710095 or email her at [email protected] See you there with your spade!