An Aberdeenshire MP has called for the system of booking places at recycling centres to be scrapped, as it was revealed footfall had dropped to around half of pre-pandemic levels.
David Duguid, who represents Banff and Buchan, said he had written to Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege asking for an end to the scheme, which was introduced in June last year as the centres reopened following lockdown.
A consultation is currently underway, and will last until October 17.
The survey website claims the current system has had “several benefits such as improved traffic management, reducing queues for customers, increased space onsite to access skips and an environmental benefit of more material being recycled per visit.”
However, a comparison of visitor numbers between the start of last year and this year shows a significant drop in footfall at the centres.
‘Something needs to be done’
In February 2020, just under 70,000 people visited Aberdeenshire recycling centres, while fewer than 26,000 visited in the same month this year.
Mr Duguid said: “This consultation by Aberdeenshire Council is a step in the right direction and I would urge residents to take part to ensure the correct outcome can be reached.
“Dozens of residents have voiced concerns with me about still having to book slots which is why I’m continuing to push for this to be changed.
“Once this review concludes in October, I hope the council takes the correct form of action and scraps the need for bookings as soon as possible to allow recycling centres to be fully operational again without any limitations.
“We are seeing a rise in fly-tipping incidents combined with a reduction in recycling centre footfall which highlights that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.”
‘Environmental benefit’ to current system
Aberdeenshire Council’s waste manager Ros Baxter said: “Since introducing the booking system, we have continued to monitor the data.
“Although footfall has dropped by just over half comparing the 10 months pre- and post-April 2020, we are still seeing similar tonnages of waste and recycling coming through the sites over the same period.
“This indicates that customers are making fewer visits but with more material in each visit, which has an added environmental benefit.
“Currently most recycling centres are not at full capacity and bookings are generally available for the same day or the day after.
“I would encourage all residents to participate in our survey as your feedback and ideas will help us to continually improve the services we provide at our household recycling centres.”