About This Live Project

Sheffield Homes is an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) set up and owned by Sheffield City Council to manage council housing in Sheffield. As our client, Sheffield Homes offered us a list of potential project briefs for us to choose from, all of which deal with important issues and concerns regarding the current council housing stock in Sheffield. Our group decided to embark upon developing innovative solutions to address the important issue of waste disposal in flatted council estates. Our hope is that our efforts can offer strong design initiatives on the topic whilst creating awareness and incentive on the importance of recycling and proper disposal of household waste.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Meet The Real Heroes...

Early this morning I had the pleasure to shadow-work alongside an efficient team of Estate Officers working for Sheffield Homes. Not long after the crack of dawn, we set out on a routine patrol of around a dozen estates (see bottom of post for full list)...
The team's goals were fairly straightforward; check every estate block for instances of Fly-Tipping, properly dispose of it and 'Litter-Pick' all dumped litter around the communal landscape areas. Despite my fairly rounded expectations, I was still shocked at how widespread the problems of Fly-Tipping really were in flatted council estates - and more importantly, the extra effort these guys are required to put in to tackle it.

OK, so lets break the main issue down a little, importantly drawing from discussions with the Estate Officers themselves...

First of all, seen from the tenant's perspective:
  • The vertical chute system is out-of-date and doesn't have the necessary capacity needed to cope with modern black bin culture.
  • Tenants have little or no alternative but to leave their rubbish outside bin rooms / landings for collection.
  • A small portion of tenants from ethnic minorities may not consider Fly-Tipping to be an offense.
And now the role of the Bin Collector's (Veolia ES Sheffield) actively pursued work-to-rule policy:
  • All loose bin bags (outside of typical bins / 'paladins') will NOT be collected or handled.
  • Overloaded bins will be off-loaded on site until acceptable full capacity is achieved AKA If the bin is beyond full, the excess will be removed and subsequently left behind.
  • If the bin room door is blocked (and blocked can simply mean just a couple of black bin bags up against the door) then the collectors can refuse to move the waste and thus not proceed with the collection.
  • If the roads are inadequately sized or blocked by parked cars, then collectors can refuse to attempt collection to that block i.e. They cannot maneuver their truck close enough to the site for convenience.
So what sort of situations does this leave us with? Well it leaves an ever-shifting grey area of waste management for these Estate Officers to monitor and deal with routinely three times a week. Currently they bridge a vital gap in a system with a shockingly out-of-date waste disposal infrastructure and a privatised collection service that refuses to take any extra initiative.

Below are some of the situations I frequently observed on our patrol:

Large items such as televisions, sofas, cupboards and mattresses could be found anywhere from right on the doorstep of the prior owner to the middle of a block's courtyard area. These items would be removed and loaded onto our truck - then taken to the nearest dump and ultimately bound for landfill.

The images above summarise the typical locations for Fly-Tipping in flatted estates i.e. Outside the bin rooms and at the bottom of the internal stair cores (note the small chute above waste pile).

Around 9/10 of the blocks I toured had a greater quantity of Fly-Tipping than the amount of waste found inside the huge paladin bins (see typical example above). In most cases the dumped waste will be properly disposed of by the Estate Officers into the paladin bins. However larger items will always be taken back to the truck where capacity is always limited.

Above you see a typical situation where the chute has become blocked by two carrier bags wedged against each other. The above right image shows the 'Dry Store', which is basically an additional communal bin store which the tenants can access to dump larger items - these items are collected by the Estate Officers and loaded onto the truck. I was told that these guys will often go out of their way to assist anyone moving large waste out of their flat to speed up the process and keep waste levels in these stores down to a minimum.

It was a truly an eye opening experience following these guys around and witnessing first hand the extent of the waste management problems they face on a daily basis. I was definitely impressed by how eager they were to tell me of their experiences and thoughts on the causes of problems. It is very clear they are caught in the middle of a problematic system, again whereby a modern collection service meets head on with a out-of-date waste disposal infrastructure. In my opinion these guys could be accurately representative of being both our client and end-user - our proposals should seek to make their jobs less of a strain whilst more manageable and rewarding.

Estates / Flatted Blocks Visited:

  • Margate Estate
  • Lopham Street
  • Verdon Estate
  • Burngreave Estate
  • Earldom Drive
  • Earldom Road
  • Spital Street
  • Brunswick Road
  • Pinford Lane
  • Nottingham Street
  • Nottingham Cliff
  • Andover Street
  • Killton Road
  • Montford Estate

1 comment:

cristina cerulli said...

Oliver, it seems you had a really productive 'consultation activity'!

It seems to me that the issue of flytipping need unravelling.
What types of flytipping there are? When and where do they occur and what can we do to address that specific type?

I think it would be helful to start making some diagrams/definitions of various categories of flytipping.