Councillors to be asked to agree community views be sought on new approach to recycling and waste

Councillors are this week to be asked to agree that public views be sought on a range of proposals to help Aberdeenshire move faster towards recycling and waste targets.

Changes to kerbside collections and improvements to household waste and recycling centres are among the proposals drawn up to try to ensure more of the area’s waste is recycled and less sent to landfill.

Two options for kerbside collections are being proposed, informed by a survey and focus groups earlier in the year, as well as an analysis of household waste in 2016/17.

Both options would mean a reduction in landfill bin capacity to encourage residents to recycle more, as part of a wider strategy designed to ensure Aberdeenshire maximises the environmental, community and financial benefits from the waste it produces.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) will be asked to authorise a consultation and to allow the public to indicate a preference between the two kerbside collection options on Thursday (Thu, Jun 21).

The package of proposals also includes improving the network of household waste and recycling centres by increasing the type of materials that can be recycled and ensuring all centres can accept the same range of materials and have the same opening hours at times convenient to residents.

Feedback will be presented to councillors when they make a final decision on any change to recycling and waste services in November.

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. The options put forward in the draft recycling and waste strategy for 2019-23 aim to: 

• Encourage householders to treat materials as a resource
• Maximise the quality and value of recyclates collected
• Maximise recycling through reduced non-recyclable waste capacity
• Improve the network of Household Waste Recycling Centres
• Recover energy from waste that cannot be prevented, reused or recycled

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.

As part of the strategy, two options for future waste collections have been created, and will form part of the public consultation:

Option one is: weekly collection of food waste in a 23L bin, fortnightly collection of non-recyclable waste in a 140L bin, a four-weekly collection of paper and card in a 240L bin and a four-weekly collection of metals, cartons and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in a 240L bin.

Option two is: weekly collection of food waste in a 23L bin, three-weekly collection of non-recyclable waste in a 180L bin, three-weekly collection of paper and card in a 240L bin and a three-weekly collection of metals, cartons and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in a 240L bin.

Neither option would involve removing existing bins. The existing blue-lidded mixed dry recyclables bins would be used for paper and card, the existing landfill bin for metals, cartons and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, and new bins would be supplied for non-recyclable waste.

To provide greater consistency of service, some smaller recycling centres would close, with increased opening hours and materials accepted at those which remain, strategically chosen to minimise travelling distances. There would be an increased focus on reuse, with additional containers installed.

The changes would be made at no extra cost to the taxpayer, but could result in a saving of up to £1.3million, which could be used for the benefit of other council services.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Waste Manager, Ros Baxter, said: “Materials previously considered as waste have a value attached to them as a resource to be used again and again.

“Local authorities have a role to play by providing effective collection systems and encouraging residents to maximise reuse and recycling of those materials that cannot be avoided in the first place.

“We should be clear that services would not be cut under the proposals – residents will continue to receive a weekly kerbside collection optimised to deal with the type of materials they need to discard.

“More information would be provided on how to maximise reuse and recycling, alongside better Household Waste Recycling Centres and increased garden waste recycling points.”

Head of Roads, Landscape and Waste Services Philip McKay said: “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 reducing the amount of waste we produce, and by thinking carefully about what we do with items we no longer have a use for, which could be reused or recycled.

“The draft strategy is aimed at ensuring we all, as a community, make the most of the resources we have in coming years.”

You can see the report being presented to the committee next week, which includes detailed information on the proposals, via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/