Falkirk first council to sign up to Scottish Recycling Charter

Falkirk first council to sign up to Scottish Recycling Charter
Falkirk council yesterday (4 February) became the first local authority to sign up to the voluntary Scottish Household Recycling Charter, designed to increase consistency in recycling collections in the country.

The charter has been developed by Scotland’s Zero Waste Taskforce, led by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government. Signatories agree to introduce a three-stream recycling system, involving one container for glass, one for paper and card, and one for metals and plastics, together with existing food waste and residual collections. The taskforce has stated it intends to switch to a common colour system of recycling in the future, as well, for added consistency in recycling collections. 

The aim of the charter is to ‘deliver cost-effective and high-performing recycling services’. Within the charter, there are several commitments such as ensuring all citizens have access to a recycling service and that the service provided is clearly explained to improve awareness and recycling rates.

It also includes introducing moves such as encouraging collection crews to leave waste containers if they find that the recyclate has been contaminated with non-recyclable materials and reducing the capacity for non-recyclable waste.

Interested councils can now register for the new initiative, which has been endorsed by COSLA, and in doing so will receive support from Zero Waste Scotland to introduce the new system in their respective areas.

Household Recycling Charter (and associated Code of Practice)

The recommendation for the development of a charter to ensure more consistent recycling was made by the Scottish Government-COSLA taskforce in June 2015, following several meetings, which started in March 2014. In November 2015, the core principles of the charter and the accompanying code of practice were approved by COSLA, specifically the three-stream system. The complete charter, a voluntary recycling framework, and its code of practice were announced on 9 December 2015.

Other groups including the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Enterprise have been involved in the development of the charter in addition to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scotland Excel and council waste managers.

Waste management and voluntary sectors, packaging companies, drinks companies and retailers have all shown support for the charter.

New system will “sweep away the confusion”

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead visited Roughmute Recycling Centre in Falkirk yesterday as part of the announcement that the council had signed up to the charter. He was joined by the leader of the council Stephen Hagan and Falkirk Councillor Craig Martin, also COSLA Spokesperson for Development Economy and Sustainability.

Lochhead said: “This new, consistent approach to recycling will help sweep away the confusion that we all face every time we come across yet another difficult recycling system. It will maximise the quantity and quality of materials captured, and allow us to give consistent national messages about what people should do with their recycling, wherever they are in Scotland. Today, Councillor Hagan and I are writing to councils to encourage them to follow Falkirk Council’s example and sign up to the charter.”

Councillor Martin added: “Being the first local authority in Scotland to sign up to this charter shows just how keen we are to make it a great success. By using this more consistent approach, it will reduce costs and allow residents to have a clear understanding of how important it is to recycle correctly.

"The future of your bin services will be changed to bring it in line with other councils in Scotland. This is in agreement with the Scottish Government and how they want to see refuse collections change.”

Councillor Hagan said: “I am delighted that Falkirk Council is showing the way by being the first of our member councils to sign the Household Recycling Charter and start the move towards implementing a more consistent approach to recycling across Scotland.

“COSLA believes that the charter offers a hugely significant opportunity to unlock the value in household waste, allowing councils to fully benefit from the economic opportunities associated with the recycling industry, creating jobs and delivering value for money services.

“I believe that this proposed approach will make it even easier for people to recycle and would encourage everyone to support us in this by using the systems correctly and to their maximum to get the best value for money. Doing this is in all our interests.”

Falkirk waste

Speaking at Roughmute, Lochhead praised the recycling rate of Falkirk Council, which reached 54.3 per cent in 2014.

Signing up to the charter is the latest move by the council to increase recycling figures and cuts the associated costs.

In January, the council approved a move to take the processing of recyclable material from kerbside collections in house, adapting the Roughmute transfer facility into a recycling facility. Through this, it aims to avoid rising gate fees and cut the cost of processing material by almost two-thirds.

Falkirk also finished rolling out a three-weekly waste collection in March. The council reports the amount of waste sent to landfill has dropped by approximately 400 tonnes with a 75 per cent increase in food waste being recycled. 

Consistency in the UK

In England, Resource Minister Rory Stewart last year set up a Harmonisation and Consistency Working Group, which includes local authorities, recyclers, waste management contractors and retailers, and is supported by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The group is planning to present recommendations to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on implementing ‘five or six’ different collection systems to enhance consistency across England over the next decade.

Wales has already developed its own charter, the Collection Blueprint, which was launched in 2011. This outlines measures such as reducing the capacity for residual waste bins and the frequency of their collection, but offering frequent food waste and recycling collections.

More information about the Household Recycling Charter can be downloaded from the COSLA website.