Bonn. Following the start of its clean-up campaign, the city is pleased with how things are going so far. The city officers who are tasked with enforcing the new regulations receive a lot of approval from citizens.
Here is a scenario that can be observed almost every day: three young men are sitting at a fountain in the city and eating take-out. When they are finished, they simply leave the greasy packaging lying around. If a public order officer (an employee of the city "Ordnungsamt") had been in the vicinity, he would have shown them a so-called yellow card and warned them to pick up the garbage and dispose of it. Otherwise they all would have had to pay a fine of 35 euros.
Since the beginning of the cleanliness offensive in Bonn in February, the city's employees have issued fines for littering a total of 15 times. In 220 cases, those who were caught showed understanding and disposed of their garbage after a warning. The bottom line is that the city has made an initial assessment of the clean-up campaign after the first weeks up and running, and it is all positive.
50 euros for chewing gum on the ground
Karsten Sperling, head of the department of public order, said on Thursday that the yellow card system is intended to sensitize citizens to their role in keeping the city clean. It is borrowed from the world of soccer, where a yellow card is used to caution a player on misconduct during a game. In the Bonn system, a yellow card lists the warning fines that will be issued for those who litter. "People are always surprised that you have to pay 50 euros for a discarded piece of chewing gum and half of that for a cigarette butt," said Sascha Zink, an officer. "But have you ever stepped on a piece of chewing gum?" Sperling added that it was also much more difficult to remove chewing gum from the ground. Bonnorange, the municipal waste company, is currently testing special equipment for this purpose.
How has the yellow card system been received so far? "We get a lot of approval from the citizens. So far we have not experienced anyone who has become aggressive towards us," said Zink. He talked about an older woman who demonstratively put out her cigarette in an ashtray in front of his fellow officers and heaped praise on the clean-up offensive.
Too few rubbish bins is not an excuse
In another case, Zink approached a young man in Beuel after he had thrown a cigarette onto the the train track bed. When Zink asked him to pick it up again, the man pointed out that there were already 20,000 cigarette butts there. "I told him that this was the 20,001th cigarette, and you are now picking it up. At some point you have to start." The young man complied with the request.
According to Zink, litterers can be found in all segments of the population. "Many throw things like cigarette packs or paper cups on the ground without thinking about it. When we address them, most apologize and pick up their waste." The excuse that there are too few rubbish bins in the city is not accepted by Zink. "If there isn't one nearby, you just have to walk a few more steps." The biggest problems were caused by young men, because they often didn't want to accept that they had done something wrong.
Also dog owners "sometimes just don't get it", reported Zink. Many ignored the leash obligation ("my dog won't do anything") or did not dispose of dog excrement. "Many dog owners completely lack understanding", said Zink and reported some very unpleasant encounters. "I prefer to go to a school grounds at half past eleven at night to deal with drunken teenagers, rather than have to deal with dog owners who cannot accept that they have done something wrong.”
More staff added to increase cleanliness and security
With the clean-up campaign in mind, but also to increase security in the city area, the city council voted to increase the number of public order officers from 19 to 26. For traffic control, an additional four employees will be added, bringing the total to 27. At the control center of the “Ordnungsamt,” they will receive six more personnel to boost the current team of five. It will be manned until at least 1 a.m. in the future. There are also 12 more public order officers who go out on patrol with city police units.
The clean-up campaign also means more frequent cleaning intervals for places in the city that get very dirty. And it has all resulted in Bonnorange having pass on the costs. On average, residents have to pay around 4.8 percent more this year for city cleaning.
Orig. text: Lisa Inhoffen Translation: Carol Kloeppel