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Can Puerto pool resources with Europe over its rubbish “problems”? 

PAGE 22 CAN

This month I am talking rubbish again. I hadn’t intended to, at least, not quite so soon, as I am sure you must think I have an obsession with the subject.

It’s just that recent news of Puerto joining a quango on the topic offers an opportunity too good to miss. That’s right; Puerto joins a host of European towns and cities, all of which are in a similar situation, i.e. tourist destinations with waste management problems, at least I assume they must have problems; if everything was hunky dory there would be no need for a forum.

The claim is that tourist towns present unique problems, rubbish wise, but I can’t think why, unless they are talking about volume, which in itself shouldn’t make any difference. The aim, I guess, is to all compare notes on how they deal with waste management, to take the best practises from each and come up with an agreed approach. I am not a fan of quangos, for me there is too much talking and far too little action.

Does Puerto have a rubbish problem? I don’t know, I suppose it depends on each individual’s interpretation. The council evidently doesn’t want to see rubbish on the streets, given that they are intent on trying to hide it underground. I personally don’t have the same hang-ups, we all create rubbish, some of us more than others, we are all aware of it, so there really is no need to put it out of sight. If the council feels it is unsightly then the easy answer is to collect it more often.

I am not totally against the put it underground approach, I think it is an unnecessary expense and of course, the bins take a lot longer to empty, that’s when the hydraulics work. However, where the plan completely falls down is by putting recycling underground. Recycling should be visible and easily accessible; you should be trying to sell the idea, to encourage more people to do it.

We are an island where very little is produced, everything is imported, be it by aeroplane or boat and it arrives in a cardboard box. You can see it every morning in the town, delivery men wheeling trolleys stacked up with them, no shop is immune from them.

One saving grace, waste wise I mean, is that cardboard is very recyclable, so at the end of the day all the shopkeepers have to do is take them along to the bin. I have watched them, its comical, some try to put whole boxes in the chute, not easy and besides the bin is filled too soon, some bring them ready flattened, which, of course, increases their dimensions making them impossible to fit in without ripping them to shreds.

So what do most people, exactly what I would do, stack them up alongside. These boxes then disappear each night, straight into the back of the dustcart along with the domestic rubbish, which sort of defeats the object really.

Nimbyism?

Let’s hope that Puerto comes away from these meetings with some good ideas, or at the very least perhaps they will be persuaded to abandon the subterranean wheelie bins and bring them back to the surface. If they don’t want to see them, then screen them off or do as they have done with the ones that used to be in the muelle, move them a lot further away. So, they are no longer convenient, but, at least, they don’t have to look at them, sort of smacks of nimbyism though.

Away from the town centre we have no such problems, wheelie bins are conveniently placed and emptied overnight, three times a week in our street, just after midnight, I hear the whine of the dustcarts reverse gear every time, one of the disadvantages of living in a cul-de-sac. Then once a week, on a designated day the garden rubbish is collected, Thursday for us, just after 7 in the morning, I hear them drag the skip along the road. But, hang on that’s how it used to be; now the garden collection is less efficient. I used to put it down, to whichever crew was working, some are more enthusiastic than others, but recently they have only taken waste that is in bags.

Garden waste should be in bags or tied in ‘manageable’ sized bundles. That has been the case for a couple of years, since the council put out a 38 page directive on what, where, when and how you should dispose of your rubbish. However, there has been a level of leniency and garden rubbish has been collected in whatever shape or form, alas not anymore. Now, I am always a good boy and bag my garden rubbish, have always thought it stupid to throw it down loose for someone else to pick up.

Unfortunately no two people are the same, not everyone else in my street feels the same as me. In fact we have one who just jettisons his cuttings over his garden wall and they remained where they land until collected. Add the goat herd passing twice a day and by the time Thursday collection day came around his rubbish is spread throughout the street.

Haphazard?

They stopped collecting loose garden rubbish in our street over a month ago and looking around it is not just us they have singled out. I have watched them drive up our street, stop where rubbish is bagged and ignore all other. It is crazy really, because at the end of the day, someone has to collect it, be it the usual collection service or the road sweepers. It built up for a month and then one morning it all disappeared, a Saturday it was, and with the crew on overtime it was amazing how more enthusiastic they were. Even the driver got out to help, almost unheard off.

I have always though this service a bit haphazard, one which could easily be improved. Why not simply put a ‘green’ wheelie next to the domestic waste one, and by green I don’t mean in colour that would be confusing, why not brown that’s a good organic colour. Also there doesn’t seem to be any consistency between muni-cipalities, as in nearby La Orotava, all garden rubbish goes in with domestic rubbish.

Waste management is an issue the world over and this island’s government is not one to shirk its responsibilities as it has just announced that €114 million has been earmarked to improve facilities to tackle the problema.