Millions of pounds to cover the cost of controversial changes to bin collections in Aberdeenshire could be handed over next month.
Under proposals designed to increase recycling rates with a three-weekly collection cycle, a new third bin would distributed to every household in Aberdeenshire at a cost of around £4.5 million.
The new smaller bins would be for landfill waste, and the bins currently used for landfill would then be designated for non-paper recyclable materials, while the third bin would be for recycling paper and card.
It is understood that the proposals are at an “advanced stage”, pending funding from government quango Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) in order to make them a reality.
Scottish Government’s recycling fund for local councils
The Scottish Government’s five-year £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund has been established to help accelerate progress towards waste and recycling targets, and local councils can apply to receive cash from the pot for initiatives in their regions.
Aberdeenshire Council has expressed an interest, and has submitted a bid for a share of the £70m.
Adrian Bond, recycling programme manager at ZWS said no awards have been made yet, but decisions could be made early next month.
He said: “No awards have been made from the Recycling Improvement Fund yet. We don’t expect to make any until early June.
“Aberdeenshire Council has registered an interest in applying to the fund for support for its service change.
“This expression of interest has been assessed and the council has been invited to submit a more detailed application.”
A poll of more than 200 of our readers found that 94% are opposed to the changes, and North Kincardine councillor Colin Pike said the set-up is already “totally dysfunctional”, and should be kept simple.
But Mr Bond said the proposed three-week collections in Aberdeenshire would help to increase recycling rates.
The Scottish Government has set targets of 70% of waste being recycled or prepared for re-use, and no more than 5% of waste going to landfill, by 2025.
The ZWS recycling programme manager added: “Restricting the capacity for non-recyclable wastes is proven to be one of the most effective methods of increasing householder recycling.
“Aberdeenshire Council’s proposed service change would put it in line with the Household Recycling Charter Code of Practice, which suggests local authorities should provide a maximum 80 litres (17.5 gallons) per week capacity for non-recyclable waste.
“This is most commonly done through use of a 240 litre (52 gallons) bin on a three-weekly collection frequency, which is what Aberdeenshire is proposing.”
The equivalent of 22,000 flights
He added: “Recycling is one of the most important things we can all do at home to tackle climate change.
“If Scottish households recycled just 10% more of their waste we would save over 148,000 tonnes of CO2e, the equivalent of over 22,000 flights around the world.
“Scotland is also driving towards a more circular economy – in which products and services are made to last and nothing is wasted.
“Recycling has a key part to play. By recycling as much as we can we divert valuable materials from landfill or incineration, benefiting the environment and the economy.”
How much is Aberdeenshire currently recycling?
Currently, the recycling rate in Aberdeenshire is at 44%, and it is hoped that the proposals would increase this to more than 50%.
Thirty thousand tonnes of recyclable material is landfilled in Aberdeenshire at a cost of £3.5m per year.
And another 10,000 tonnes is landfilled through recycling centres at a cost of £1.2m per year.
Friends of the Earth Scotland back plans
Sarah Moyes, plastic and circular economy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland backed the proposals.
She said: “Over half of household waste across Aberdeenshire is currently not being recycled, so it’s vital more is done to prevent valuable recyclable materials ending up in landfill or burning in incinerators.
“The plans to increase recycling rates with the new bin system are really positive. In order for them to be successful, the local authority must effectively communicate the changes to households so they put the right items in the correct bin, otherwise there could be a rise in contaminated recycling bins across the city.”