Edinburgh rolls out twin-stream dry recycling system

The City of Edinburgh Council yesterday (1 September) began rolling out the first phase of its new, twin-stream dry recycling system to households.

Under the changes, first announced last year, a total 140,000 homes in ‘low-density housing areas’ of Edinburgh will switch from a separate-sort dry recycling system to a twin-stream approach in a bid to increase recycling rates (currently at around 40 per cent).

This will reduce the amount of recycling receptacles residents need to use from a maximum of nine to seven.

Twin-stream details

Under the first phase of the rollout, 20,000 properties will need to place general waste in new, 140-litre grey wheelie bins (which were delivered during August).

The 240-litre green wheelie bins that were previously used for general waste will be collected for the last time this week, and will henceforth be used for co-mingled dry recyclables (such as plastic, paper, cardboard, etc), excluding glass, batteries, textiles and small electrical items. These will be collected in the old blue boxes. Both receptacles (and residual waste) will be collected once a fortnight.

Separate food (weekly) and garden waste (fortnightly) collections will continue as normal. The red box (for cardboard, card, and food and drinks cartons), blue bags (for paper) and large clear bags (for plastic bottles) will no longer be needed. 

Those who are receiving the new service should have already been sent information and collection date calendars through the post.

As the old system is rolled back from this week, stickers will be placed on empty green bins advising residents they should henceforth use them for recycling. Recycling advisors will also accompany bin lorries to answer any questions and provide additional information on how the service has been updated. 

Service to save £736,000 a year

Although the new service requires an initial outlay of £3.3 million for the new bins (funded through ‘prudential borrowing’), the council estimates that the system will eventually cost £736,000 a year less than the current arrangements.

Indeed, according to the business case for the new service, the reason for choosing a twin-stream approach was that it was the most cost-effective option after co-mingled collections. Justifying the decision to opt out of co-mingled collection, the business case reads: ‘Fully co-mingled dry recyclate collections, which are generally considered the simplest to use and most cost-effective collection system, were ruled out on the basis that they do not comply with the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (WSR).’ These regulations, set to come into force in 2014, require local authorities to collect recyclables in a way that ensures they are of high enough quality to be recycled back into the same product type (i.e. glass bottles to glass bottles).

‘Making every effort to help people to adjust to the changes’

It is hoped the new simplified system will encourage greater participation, ‘maximise the operational flexibility’ of the service by delivering all services using in-house resources, and help the council reach its target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2014 (up from the current rate of 44 per cent).

Speaking of the changes, Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “We are rolling the new recycling service out in phases to ensure we get it right, learning as we go, and will be making every effort to help people to adjust to the changes. 

“As part of the rollout we’ll be ensuring the public are kept well-informed, with recycling advisors visiting homes, providing advice and speaking to residents about how they are adapting to the new collections.

“There is no doubt we need to increase recycling rates in Edinburgh, and I’m confident the public are willing to work with us to help boost levels of recycling while keeping landfill costs down.” 

The council needs to meet statutory targets of recycling 70 per cent of waste by 2025.

Councillor Adam McVey, Environment Vice Convener, added: “We all need to get recycling if we want Edinburgh to become a sustainable city, and this simplified service is aimed at helping citizens to do that. 

“We have seen similar schemes working well for other local authorities and I’m sure we’ll soon see the benefits here too.” 

Visit the recycling pages on the council website for more information.