Fife begins four-weekly collection trial
The pilot scheme, first announced in March, will see residual waste from around 2,000 homes in the areas of Thornton and Stenton collected every four weeks.
A further 2,000 homes in Markinch and Coaltown of Balgonie will have residual waste collected every three weeks.
The council is trialling two different systems in a bid to boost its 54 per cent recycling rate and meet the Scottish Government’s 2020 target of 60 per cent, and then the 2025 target of 70 per cent with a maximum five per cent sent to landfill.
Landfill currently costs Fife Council £10 million a year, and it says that although its four-bin system has been a success to date, rising waste disposal charges could cost the council an extra £1.5 million each year if recycling rates don’t increase.
Analysis carried out by the council suggests that over half of the waste currently being disposed of in blue residual waste bins could be recycled in other bins. It found that 25 per cent was food waste, 19 per cent plastic packaging and cans, eight per cent paper can cardboard, and eight per cent glass.
A report compiled by the Fife Council Executive Committee has also predicted that implementing the two schemes could result in ‘annual revenue savings of over £350,000 in the short term, rising to over £900,000 after 2021’.
Details of trials
The trail splits the four participating communities into two groups as it seeks to find the best system for waste collection.
In Thornton and Stenton, blue bins containing residual waste will be emptied every four weeks. Grey bins containing paper and cardboard will also be taken every four weeks, but green bins taking plastic and cans will be collected every two weeks.
Meanwhile, Markinch and Coaltown of Balgonie will see all three bins emptied every three weeks.
Collection of food and garden waste, which is collected in the same lined brown bin, will be the same for both services. From March to November these will be taken every two weeks, and over the winter months of December to February will be taken every four weeks. There will be a ‘relaxed additional bin policy’ for food and garden waste during the trial.
Households producing medical waste, that have children in nappies, or larger families will be able to requests larger blue residual waste bins or, in the four-weekly areas, more frequent collections.
Glass was considered for inclusion in the kerbside collection service, but the council, which says it currently captures 65 per cent of available glass through recycling points and centres, considered the cost to set up and run the service prohibitive when compared to the increase in recycling it would produce.
The council says that it will continuously monitor recycling rates, bin contents and levels of illegal dumping throughout the trials.
Trials a response to resident feedback on service
Commenting on the launch of the trial, Ken Gourlay, Head of Assets, Transportation and Environment at Fife Council, said: “People across Fife have been telling us they want plastics and cans collected more often, so our trials are responding to this.
“In a doorstep survey we found over 66 per cent of green bins were full or overly full at collection time. So, on one trial route we’ll empty them every three weeks, and on the other route we’ll empty them fortnightly.
“This is a pilot to get more information so that we can meet the needs of local people, develop a cleaner, greener Fife as well as reduce our waste disposal costs. If we fail to increase recycling rates in Fife, then we are throwing money away.”
Councillor John Wincott, Fife Council’s Sustainability Champion, added: “Our recycling advisors will be on hand to help people adapt to the new service. I’d like to thank Fifers for their recycling activity to date, and although the idea may seem a bit daunting to some people, this is an exciting opportunity to reduce waste and recycle even more.”
Local authorities in UK cutting down on collection frequency
Reducing the frequency of waste collections was one of the solutions suggested by waste management company SUEZ in a report released last week (15 September). The study looked at how England can give its stagnant recycling rate a boost in time for the European Union target of 50 per cent recycling by 2020.
A number of councils have recently trailed three-weekly residual waste collections in an attempt to increase their recycling rates.
After two months of a trial scheme in Bury, the council released figures in August suggesting the kerbside recycling rate had risen by eight per cent. Rochdale Borough Council agreed in July to switch permanently to three-weekly collections in a bid to save money and raise its recycling rate of 34.5 per cent.
Banbridge District Council in Northern Ireland is the only other UK local authority to trial a monthly collection scheme, which ran from August 2014 to February this year.
According to a council evaluation, the trial, which took place across 60 per cent of the households in the area, resulted in the amount of material put in residual waste bins falling by 35 per cent and a kerbside recycling rate of 64.5 per cent, almost twice the average rate of other Northern Ireland council areas.
Following consultations with residents, however, the scheme was ended after ‘fundamental flaws’ were found in the system. These were believed by residents to be the overflowing of bins and hygienic issues particularly relating to nappies and medical waste, though no further details were given by the council.
Find out more about recycling and waste in Fife.