Aberdeen residents could be charged postage costs to receive food waste liners – in an effort to save £25,000 a year on stamps.
Aberdeen City Council has provided bioliners to householders for the collection of food waste free of charge.
These can be collected from a number of collection points across the city or by contacting the council to request they are posted out.
But in a new move being considered by councillors on Tuesday, it will look to introduce a £2.33 charge to get the liners posted out – prompting concerns from campaigners that food recycling levels could drop.
Under the move, they can still be collected from local collection points free of charge.
It has been revealed the cost of posting bioliners has played a “significant part” in the overspend of the facilities service budget with the measure expected to cost the local authority in the region of £30,000 to £35,000 in the future if changes aren’t made.
The annual cost is currently around £25,000 a year but this can vary according to demand.
A newly-released report by Pam Walker, the city council’s waste strategy manager, said: “The cost of postage has risen dramatically since this was introduced and in 2017 the cost per package (two tolls of 25 bags) is around £2.33.
“This has had a significant impact on the postage budget and increased uptake in the service due to recent service changes has also placed additional pressure on the administrative functions of the council.
“This has come to a point where the facilities service has stated the cost of posting bioliners has played a significant part in the overspending of this budget and therefore this has been reviewed to consider ways to reduce or eliminate the cost.”
In Aberdeenshire, when householders run out of the bioliners they tie the last one to their food bin handle and refuse crews then leave a new packet either inside or on top of the bin while on their rounds, removing the need for postage costs.
Guy Ingerson, co-convener of Aberdeen Greens, fears the move may discourage recycling.
He said: “There is still an issue where people will put their food waste into the general waste, especially over winter when the last thing you want to do is go to a collection point.”
He said the system operated in Aberdeenshire, which is not listed as an option in the report, should be considered as it cuts out the costs.
It is proposed that the local authority would continue to provide a free of charge postal service of bioliners to those with limited mobility.
The council said this would be “negligible” as currently there are around 1,200 households on this service, assuming they require two deliveries a year, would equate to £5,592 per year.
The zero-waste management sub-committee is being asked to support the proposal to introduce this charge at their next meeting on Tuesday. If approved, this will be referred to the finance, policy and resources committee for former approval.
Councillor Phillip Bell, convener of the committee, said: “The city council is under a lot of pressure to make substantial savings. It’s important to strike a balance between getting the best value for residents and making it easy for people to recycle.
“This report, like all others, will be looked at and considered in detail before a decision is reached.”