Results are in from Big Recycling Challenge Survey - helping inform area's future recycling and waste services

The results are in from a public survey to inform the future of recycling and waste services in Aberdeenshire.

The Big Recycling Challenge survey was run by Aberdeenshire Council in February 2018 to find out residents’ views on some of the proposals to increase recycling in the area.

Over half of the materials put into local landfill bins are recyclable through existing services – equating to around 30,000 tonnes of recyclable materials being sent to landfill at a cost of £3.5million a year.

Recycling generally costs less than half of landfilling waste. If all recyclable waste was recycled effectively, the area’s recycling rate could be well over 70%, also saving lots of taxpayers’ money.

At the moment the recycling rate is 43.5% - providing a real challenge to all of us as to how to make this happen.

A new recycling and waste strategy is being developed to ensure Aberdeenshire maximises the benefits from the waste it produces as a community.

The new strategy will also help comply with new regulatory requirements banning landfilling of biodegradable waste by 2021, and work towards meeting reuse and recycling targets set by the Scottish Government - 60% by 2020 and 70% by 2025.

The survey was the first part of engagement with residents; a full public consultation on the new waste strategy will take place in the autumn.

Head of Roads, Waste and Landscape Services, Philip McKay, said: “As well as missing out on significant environmental and local benefits, we are literally spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money dealing with material that should have been recycled. This money could be much better spent on other essential services.

“The services currently provided should allow us all to recycle over 70% of the waste we produce.

“While we will continue to provide information to residents about how to use the current services, we clearly have to make some changes in the way we all deal with items that we no longer have a use for. 
“We all have a role to play, by firstly reducing the amount of waste we produce, and secondly by thinking carefully about what we should do with items we no longer have a use for, but that could be reused or recycled.

“The process of producing the strategy will involve further public consultation and I’d encourage everyone to have their say to ensure we have the best possible approach as a community to dealing with this issue in coming years.”

Almost 4,000 survey responses were received – here’s a summary of what residents said, which is feeding into the development of the new draft strategy:

• 75% put their food waste bin out for collection weekly or every second time. 19% never use their food waste bin. Only 28% fully use their weekly food waste bin capacity (or require a second bin).

• 88% put their blue recycling bin out for collection every time. 59% already fully use their weekly recycling bin capacity (or require a second bin).

• 90% put their landfill bin out for every collection. Half manage with 3/4 or less of their weekly landfill bin capacity, and 28% even with less than half a bin.

• Respondents were unhappy about being asked to give a preference for a smaller landfill bin, less frequent landfill bin collections or both, despite being given the reasons for such a change and the question having been specifically worded as ‘if you had to choose one of the options’. 7% felt so strongly about this they refused to provide an answer and finished the survey at this point. Of those who did provide an answer (if only to be able to move to the next question), 69% preferred a smaller landfill bin, 26% preferred less frequent collections and 5% both.

• Over 1,700 suggestions for new glass recycling points were received – these are currently being followed up with a view to installation in communities.

• 68% preferred the currently available ways to recycle their garden waste (composting at home, taking garden waste to Household Waste Recycling Centres and seasonal village garden waste collection points). Only 16% preferred to reduce the frequency of landfill bin collection to accommodate kerbside garden waste collections using the same vehicles and 11% a chargeable opt-in kerbside garden waste collection.

You can see all of the survey results, which give a snapshot of local recycling habits and preferences, on our website.