Changes are agreed to Aberdeenshire kerbside recycling and waste collections

The new three-week cycle will be introduced early in the New Year
The new three-week cycle will be introduced early in the New Year

Changes to kerbside collection of recycling and waste in Aberdeenshire to push up recycling rates and send less to landfill will happen next year, councillors have agreed.

As part of a new overarching waste strategy for the area, Aberdeenshire Council sought £3.2million funding from Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to help roll out a new collection system.

That was thrown into doubt when ZWS confirmed it would not provide the money required, in light of the emerging Deposit Return Scheme and the effect this will have on recyclates collected from homes.

The council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) decided on Thursday, May 16 to introduce alternative arrangements to push up recycling rates and reduce materials sent to landfill.

They approved an option to use households’ existing bins in a three-weekly collection cycle while officers continue to work to explore funding opportunities for further changes.

One bin and a food waste caddy will continue to be collected every week meaning week one will start with general waste bins (landfill) and food waste collected, week two will see Recycling bin (blue lid) and food waste collected, and week three will also be a recycling bin and food waste collection.

The materials that can be recycled on the kerbside remain the same - the only difference is that the blue-lidded recycling bin is emptied more often.

The new service will be piloted in some areas in 2019 and rolled out to the rest of Aberdeenshire in 2020.

Households will be contacted in advance by post.

As over 70% of the waste produced in Aberdeenshire is recyclable using the existing recycling services, this change should allow an increased recycling rate, while work continues to seek other ways to push that up even further using kerbside services.

ISC chair Peter Argyle said: “Clearly the decision by Zero Waste Scotland not to consider our funding bid has had a negative effect on our well-developed plans to push up Aberdeenshire’s recycling rate and send less recyclable materials to landfill.

“This was not our first choice as a solution, but this is the position we find ourselves in and we feel that this option makes the most of a difficult situation and will help push up recycling rates.

“At present, we see this as an interim measure, while we work to deliver a permanent scheme which provides a service for our residents which enables them to recycle as many materials as possible.

“One of the key things we continue to try to impress is that we want residents to simply think for a second about how they dispose of the waste they generate, then use the services we provide as best they can.”

Vice chair John Cox said: “It can come as no surprise to anyone that councils are trying their hardest to offer services which push up recycling rates and make the most of recyclable materials.

“I’m pleased officers have been able to come up with an interim alternative which keeps us moving in the right direction.

“Although landfill capacity is essentially reduced, if recycling services are used to their full capacity most households should be able to cope and the use of the food waste bin means there should be no additional hygiene issues either.”

Other changes to be introduced under the new Waste Strategy are still going ahead – including improvements to Household Waste Recycling Centres from this month and an increased number of garden waste collection points across the area this summer.

Over half the materials in local non-recyclable waste bins are recyclable through existing services – equating to around 30,000 tonnes of recyclable materials being landfilled at a cost of £3.5million a year.

Not only does maximising the value of a material benefit the environment, it also frees up money for other essential council services.