Opt in recycling scheme branded ‘a disaster’ by Athelstan Road tenants

Matt Shoul (left) Ollie Clueit ERA [Ethelbert Residents’ Photo Amelia Gregory Association] and Joe Bacon, ARTRA Co-Secretary say residents want regular recycling collections

Residents in Cliftonville West who have to ‘opt in’  to have their recycling collected say the scheme isn’t working since changes were brought in last October.

Residents in Athelstan Road are among those in the ward who need to register for recycling collections. Paper, card and other recycling waste was collected on the same day until October when separate collections were installed for metal, glass and plastic and then for paper and card.

Resident and Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents Association (ARTRA) chairman Matt Shoul says the last four months have seen a failure to pick up the recycling with collections made from just one property.

He said: “ From October 2019 all tenants and residents received a three month schedule stating that recycling was still going to be collected weekly, but paper/card and metal/glass/plastic would be picked up on alternate weeks.

“Ever since then regular collections effectively stopped and the recycling van would pick up from the first house encountered on entering the street – No. 51 – and then drive off, with no attempt to look up and  down the pavement to see who else had left recycling out for them,

“So far, no 2020 schedule has been provided for January, February and March,  it’s been a disaster.”

Matt says the matter has been taken up by councillors Alan Currie and Steve Albon with help from officer Gavin Waite and finally resulted in a full collection last week but tenants are still waiting for a schedule.

He added: “Alan Currie and Steve Albon have been on this for several months now, Gavin Waite has apparently attempted to help with matters with intervention after the officer in charge of recycling had stopped responding to councillor emails.”

The opt in scheme operates in streets where a large number of properties are not easily suitable for recycling collections.

Residents receive their red bag for paper and card, plus either a blue box, or a blue lidded wheelie bin, and an Opt In window sticker.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “There was an issue on this street with the ten households that had opted into the Neighbourhood Recycling Scheme but this has now been rectified.’

Thanet District Council must reach a 50% recycling rate by 2020 – a requirement under UK and EU law.

According to the latest government figures Thanet council has a way to go.  The percentage of refuse sent for recycling for 2017/18 was 33.84% and for 2018/19 it was 36.30%.

This rate is below the national average.


  1. I am pleased for the residents in Athelstan Road now getting their recycling picked up but this issue is not just relating to that street, all the others in the area that opted in are still receiving a hit and miss service, some have now given up waiting for the lorry to come and just put all their rubbish together in the black lidded bins, but it is not for the want of trying, calling TDC regularly and being asked to leave it out on the street until they come, but still without a collection but risking the waste being blown away. Just the odd one in the street getting it picked up. It is ridiculous that this cannot be sorted.

    • Please email [email protected] to state which street you’re on & provide details of exactly what your experience is with the TDC Opt In Recycling Scheme, since October 2019, which is when Athelstan Road’s collections effectively stopped!

      The more information our ward councillors have, the better the likelihood of the Officer in charge of recycling is of being picked up on this systemic failure & being *obliged* to fix this horrendously dysfunctional system.

  2. At Arlington house residents have been requesting that TDC place recycling bins on site for years to which until recently obstacles have been placed in the way of doing so . However recent correspondence from TDC has been more favourable suggesting this could take place as part of a pilot scheme with some other local tower blocks .
    Why is it that TDC drag their heals over everything ?

  3. The problem with some areas/buildings is the number of residents that have no interest in recycling and the amount of contamination that occurs resulting in it going into general waste. Cliftonville in particular is more than a little problematic in respect of waste/ refuse, TDC would be overjoyed if they just had to collect waste as normal rather than provide all the extra facilities it does. There needs to be a pragmatci discussion as to the level of involvement to make a recycling service economic, is it really justifiable for a small minority of residents in a street? Its hard to believe that the environmental damage of a crew , vehicle and associated overheads are offset by the recycling efforts of 10 homes in a street.
    Personally i’d much rather the refuse was all black bag and collected properly ( without the wasteland that lies in the wake of the crew on collection day) as a starting point, get that right then consider recycling.
    There is a glass recycling facility in Dalby Square and another alongside Dane Park which also has paper bins. Not too far to go for those so keen on recycling.

    • There are NO TDC public receptacles for recycling plastic, which is a disgrace. There may only be 10 houses in Athelstan Road that have opted in (which I doubt) but the lorry goes up and down all the neighbouring streets as well. Also, the little that TDC does about recycling is in response to an EU directive. So they don’t have the choice to ignore even their self-declared climate emergency and do as you suggest, they would have to pay fines.

      • Yep the lorry goes up and down all the streets in cliftonville, collecting from similarly few properties, a complete waste of resources chasing a target that very few of the residents have any interest in meeting.
        TDC have many things they have a legislative duty to perform but they don’t, look at the state of their social housing and the inability/unwillingness to deal with the truly appalling problematic rented properties that cause untold grief to neighbours as result of the behaviour of the tenants ( council won’t do anything as they’d then be responsible for rehousing said tenants, who are in poor accommodation because no decent landlord wants them nor does the social sector)
        To many people collecting plastic is at the bottom of the list when it comes to the things that affect their lives adversely. Put all the plastic collection points out you want, they’ll get filled with all sorts of rubbish and the contents will be useless for recycling.
        Until you deal with the issue of people choosing not to recycle things will not improve.

        • Why is it an opt-in scheme in Cliftonville? Every household in Ramsgate has at least one recycling receptacle, as far as I know.

          • Because the numbers of people willing to recycle in cliftonville was so small it was not worth offering it as a service to all, so resources were reduced and the opt in scheme introduced. In the early days of TDC recycling households were given blue recycling bags, in cliftonville especially and other areas to a lesser extent, these were instantly used as black bag refuse sacks. The vast majority were contaminated and the scheme collapsed. All a part of cliftonvilles embedded problems, for which no amount of effort on TDC’s part will put right. Not that the council has not contributed to a good number of them.
            The waste and recycling team spend huge amounts over the norm in cliftonville in their quest to keep the area tolerably clean, the bulk bins have helped considerably and credit where its due they’re emptied sometimes more than once a day.

    • All UK local authorities are legally obliged under both UK & EU law to recycle a *minimum* of 50% of all recyclable waste by the start of 2020 – in this regard, TDC has totally failed, with barely 30% intake of its opt in scheme – in other parts of the UK recycling is *mandatory* for every household – this saves massively on local government costs for landfill & is essential for being ecologically sustainable.

      Athelstan Road has approximately 250 households & a voluntary sign up to the Opt In Recycling Scheme of just 10 houses is atrocious – it’s barely 4% of the street – despite ARTRA providing a direct link on its homepage to help tenants & residents register on the TDC website.

      • Which rather shows where the problem in athelstan road lies ( in terms of recycling and many other issues). Similar waste/refuse problems exist in many other of cliftonvilles roads, Arthur road was blighted for several years by one property alone ( it was converted with refuse facilities provided as per tdc requirements, then kent fire and rescue said it was dangerous, landlord did’nt care as building was signed off, rubbish was dumped on the path), still happens but now the council mobile unit clears it as it builds up.
        The bulk bins provided at bottom of edgar, athelstan etc have no provision for recycling because people won’t and council can do little to compel them.
        All very well having recycling targets mandated in law, but when that means we dump our waste in the far east or criminals store it in warehouses that catch fire , you have to question whether these laws achieve anything meaningful.
        I ask my tenants to not recycle and use the bulk bins, when they’ve tried to recycle the number of missed collections and build up of waste in bin stores was beyond a joke,.
        Cliftonville and similar areas need to learn to walk before running when it comes to waste collection.

  4. Why is anyone surprised at yet another service failure by the waste and recycling team? All over Thanet the level of service is a total joke. I really have no idea why Councillors aren’t getting a grip of this and demanding improvements. I also have no idea why the Chief Executive isn’t all over this service failure and demanding improvements. It’s been comically appalling for years yet no one seems to be accountable for it.

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