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Writing a book on rubbish and recycling! 

For want of a better topic, this month I return to the subject of rubbish, or to be exact, the handling of it within Puerto de la Cruz. I know I have been here before, more than once I think, and I did hesitate, fingers poised above the keyboard, desperately trying to think of something more interesting to write about, but no such luck.

Still, rubbish collection, and more importantly recycling, can be a very emotive topic, there are people who are passionate about it, not me I hasten to point out, and I have witnessed enough of the locals’ somewhat peculiar methods of disposal that I could probably write a book on the subject, but more on that later. 

Why I am returning to the subject however, is to com-ment on a recent groundbrea-king change to the way our garden waste is to be collec-ted.

So, first a bit of history, for years in Puerto you could put your garden rubbish next to the bins to be collected on a given day. I always thought it odd, to dump your rubbish on the ground only for someone else to pick up, double handling, but the system seem to work and work well in as much as the rubbish disappeared. Then a few years ago the service deteriorated, the collections became a bit haphazard, days varied and as a result garden waste sat on the streets longer. I speak only of my local bin area, others may have continued to receive a good service, but from what I’ve seen recently whilst on walkabout, on the whole, I very much doubt it.

Then about two years ago, there was a town hall directive that all garden waste had to be bagged, or if not at least tied up into manageable bundles. Fair enough, it makes the collection of it far easier and quicker. Of course, it didn’t work, a few bin bags appeared, but otherwise the dumping of garden rubbish continued unabated and still does to this day. At first the collection teams adopted the ‘Jobsworth’ stance and would only collect bagged rubbish, or in the cases where there were there wasn’t enough to warrant the lowering their skip, they just dumped them in the general waste bin, sort of defeats the object, doesn’t it. All loose rubbish was left on the street for weeks, but someone had to collect it, so eventually they conceded and a status quo was reached, which has continued ever since. Our garden rubbish still sits there for weeks, but eventually they’ll take it, normally when there is enough to fill a skip. I must point out our bin area is not prominently placed and I am sure others that are more high profile receive a far better service. I would also like to mention just to provide a comparison that in neigh-bouring La Orotava all garden waste goes into the general waste bins, it doesn’t seem to cause them a problem and as a consequence you rarely see garden waste cluttering their streets.

Drum roll please, wait for it, trumpet fanfare, loud applause, in Puerto de la Cruz they are now introducing brown wheelie bins specifically for garden waste. What a great initiative! I wonder who came up with that idea; whoever did deserves a pat on the back. I would never have thought of such a groundbreaking idea. (They say that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but sometimes I can’t resist it) So yes 300 bins have been or are in the process of being distributed to strategic around the town. They are being placed in pairs, obviously one bin is not considered enough, or is it an indicator of how infre-quently they are to be emptied.

At last there will longer be any unsightly garden rubbish littering our streets, festering in the heat. Hang on though, before you get too carried away, this is Puerto de la Cruz I am talking about and in Puerto nothing is quite that easy or straight forward. When the bins arrived residents should have received a key (yes they have locks) and full instructions on how to use them. The locks are surely an unnecessary barrier, but on reflection perhaps not as one of the locals’ peculiarities is that they dump their rubbish in whichever bin is nearest with no regard for its colour or its contents, they can’t all be colour blind.

As for instructions what could they possibly contain? Take key(A), insert in lock(B) turn clockwise, lift lid(C), put rubbish in container(D), lower lid(C), ensure that lock(B) is engaged, if not insert key(A) in lock(B) and turn anticlockwise to engage, try to lift lid(C) to confirm everything is secure.(Or Spanish to that effect) I am joking, of course, what I am sure the instructions divulge is that any waste put into the bins must be loose (not in bags) and chopped up into small pieces .

So does this mean in order to comply everyone is going to rush out and buy garden shredders, or do you think people are going to continue as they are and dump their garden waste in any size, shape and form on the road alongside , apart from grass cuttings that is, perhaps they might find their way inside the bins, most probably in a bag.

I sincerely hope the bins work, but I have visions of coming across one with the lid propped open and half a tree sticking out.

Well that dragged on a bit, but I am sorry to say (I’m not really) I am going to continue on the rubbish theme, or should I say recycling, almost the same thing, you just put it in a different bin, in theory anyway.

Earlier in the year the council in their wisdom installed some extra wastepaper bins in the ‘posh’ bit of the town (San Telmo and the surrounding area). You know the sort I mean, the swing bins on two legs that are everywhere in the town with Loro Parque emblazo-ned all over them.

A great idea, more bins theoretically means there will be less rubbish on the streets for the street cleaners to blow into the corners. However, these bins are larger than the norm and have ‘yellow’ lids. Wait up, reality check, how sad am I, I have been wandering around the town checking the size and colour of waste-paper bins.  But there you have it, to the casual glance these bins look the same as the others, yet these bins are recycling bins and the yellow means they are for plastics only. It is a good idea, at least on paper, to get the general public to do your separation, but in practise do they work? Never stood a chance, people walking by just see a ‘bin’ and put all manner of things in them. Yet there is a saving grace, any rubbish in them could have potentially ended up on the street.

More recently I have noticed ‘brown’ wastepaper bins have appeared, looking the same as any other, apart from their ‘brown’ lids that is. These bins are for food waste only. So if you are desperate for somewhere to put that banana skin or apple core, or that soggy slice of pizza you just bought no longer looks appealing, or if you don’t want to eat the crusts from your sandwich don’t just put them in the nearest bin, hunt around to you find one with a ‘brown’ lid Recycling bins on the street are a great idea but if you want them to work you need the place the different bins right next to one another.

What rubbish should I end on?  I know, I will list the local’s peculiarities, not all of them, just the ones concerning disposing of their rubbish. How am I qualified to comment? I have carried out an in depth study of my local bin area which I can see from my window. (I really am that sad) I can tell you from the noise they make, exactly when the bins are emptied, around 6.30 every morning Monday to Friday, I don’t need an alarm clock, and Saturday afternoon if we are lucky, but never on a Sunday, of course. I have seen people drive up the road and lob their rubbish bags in the general direction of the bins. I have seen people wedge their car right against the bins to put their bags in the bin to avoid getting out. Some people won’t ever lift the lid; they’ll leave their rubbish on the top making it somebody else’s problem. Some still hark back to the days when they just used to leave their bags in the road outside their doors, so they refuse to bin their bags, just dump them next to them. I see people line their ‘rubbish’ up on the pavement thinking someone else mind want it.

I have seen all manner of things left alongside the bins, two huge metal gates spring to mind. I didn’t see them arrive, they were left under cover of darkness, they must have been quiet, either that or I had my TV too loud. You should have seen the local scrap collector’s eyes light up when he spotted them. He struggled for about half an hour, making a hell of a racket before admitting defeat, they were far too heavy for him. He returned later with three mates, happy to see they were still there, but to be honest no one else was likely to take them, especially not the binmen.

Unfortunately there is an element in this town who think it is ok to dump their rubbish however they like and the same applies to dropping litter in the street, because at the end of the day, and I’ve heard it said, there is someone who is paid to clean up after them.