North Lanarkshire Council becomes first in Scotland to trial waste weighing technology

North Lanarkshire Council has announced the launch of its new waste weighing programme next month, which will see it become the first local authority in Scotland to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Funded by the Scottish circular economy agency Zero Waste Scotland, the year-long pilot programme will involve 5,000 households in North Lanarkshire, aiming to enhance recycling rates within the local authority.

A person placing recycling in a binRFID tags will be installed within household waste and recycling collection bins, which, the council says, will not impact local collection procedures or timescales. The tags will be used to capture individual bin weights, helping the local authority to understand levels of recycling participation against residual waste disposal.

This information, the council says, will help identify areas for improvements and efficiencies to waste services; enhance planning for collection routes, and reduce vehicle travel times and emissions. It will also enable better staff and resource planning, and identify other potential financial savings within the council’s Waste Solutions department.

According to figures published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2019, North Lanarkshire residents recycled just over 40 per cent of their household waste. The local authority has outlined a 70 per cent target for 2025, with the achievement of this goal falling under the Scottish central government’s ambition of ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 and achieving net-zero by 2030.

Michael McPake, North Lanarkshire Council’s Convener of Environment and Transportation Committee, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this innovative pilot project with Zero Waste Scotland. It’s important that we can monitor existing levels of recycling so we can determine how to engage with local residents and make improvements to services.

“The use of RFID technology enables us to achieve this aim and will support our ambition of increasing household recycling activity across North Lanarkshire. We look forward to working closely with households involved in the initial trial which – if successful – has the potential of being rolled out across the wider local authority area, and to other parts of Scotland.”

Iain Gulland, CEO, Zero Waste Scotland, added: “As the first local authority in Scotland to take part in this pilot programme, North Lanarkshire is leading the way in embracing technology to enhance its green credentials and tackle climate change. RFID technology is ideal in helping councils gauge household waste levels. This project involves collecting data relating to the weight and make-up of collected waste and will have no impact on bin collection services.

“The primary focus is to gather data to determine which campaigns and interventions work best to reduce residual waste and increase the volume and efficiency of local recycling. RFID technology offers an innovative approach in collecting data to support this objective which will ultimately help North Lanarkshire achieve its net zero carbon targets.”