THERE has been plenty written about the need to clean up Glasgow in recent weeks and constituents and community councils are telling me that things have to change.

At the last full council meeting, Scottish Green councillors supported calls from frontline cleansing workers for more investment and more action. We got an agreement from the minority SNP administration that they will now meet with trade union representatives to listen and respond to their concerns.

We also got an agreement to review the future of the bulk uplift service. We argued that the introduction of charging was railroaded through without proper oversight, leading to a number of difficulties around people living around private lanes and shared backcourts, as well as for people without any access to a vehicle. We proposed periodic bulk waste “amnesties” and called for steps to increase the reuse and recycling of items.

A report will come urgently to the next Environment Committee responding to these concerns and we hope that leads to real improvement without creating a huge black hole in the council’s budget, while we continue to face uncertain times ahead.

Our waste and cleansing services really matter. They uphold the rights of all citizens to live in safe, healthy, local environments. They can also help address the twin crises of the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, and they can bring jobs and other economic benefits from moving towards a circular economy, where we make things last longer.

If we target and invest in the right things, we can also shift action away from just being reactive, towards actually preventing the problems in the first place. That’s in line with the principles for public services set out by the Christie Commission some 10 years ago.

We need to tackle the wasteful and selfish behaviours that are the cause of these problems, not just through punitive enforcement, but also by better communication and engagement, partnership working, and improved services that make it easier for people to do the right things. We also need the right economic incentives to make businesses who produce single-use items responsible for them throughout their whole lifecycle.

That was hit home to me last weekend, when I took my young family to the new play area developed as part of the Malls Mire green infrastructure project in Toryglen. It’s a superb facility and it was great to see it being well used. Sadly, it was also strewn with litter, almost all originating from a near-by drive-through restaurant that was eventually given planning permission despite local campaigns against it.

Similarly, I am often frustrated on local litter picks at the amount of throwaway items, like bottles and cans, that still end up in our streets, when other countries have long-standing deposit and return systems that mean people take back their empties and get cash back, just like we did for so long here with so-called “glass cheques”. Scotland has agreed to introduce such a scheme but doubts are now being cast on whether businesses will be ready for its planned launch in July next year. For councils, any delay would be costly.

So yes, let’s get the immediate action needed to clean up our city, but let’s not lose focus on fixing the system and stopping waste in the first place.