Resource Use

Recipients of monthly collections in Fife 'doing very well'

The latest update on recycling trials carried out in Fife, including the first monthly residual waste collection in Great Britain, shows higher recycling rates in trial areas.

Since September 2015, 4,000 homes in four communities – Markinch, Coaltown of Balgonie, Thornton and Stenton – have been taking part in the trial of two different waste collection schemes rolled out by Fife Council.Recipients of monthly collections in Fife ‘doing very well’

The ‘Recycling Service Improvement Trial Report’ was submitted to the Glenrothes Area Committee yesterday (9 March) and shows that residual waste has reduced and recycling collection rates of plastic, cans, paper and cardboard have increased in trial areas. It does, however, mention that the final results of the trial can’t be determined until its completion.

The purpose of these trials is to investigate which collection method is best to meet Scottish Government recycling targets of 60 per cent by 2020 and 70 per cent by 2025. The current recycling rate in Fife Council is 54 per cent.

Monthly trials

Fife Council operates a four-bin waste collection system with blue (residual), grey (paper/card), green (plastics/cans) and brown (kitchen/garden) bins.

Currently, the standard collection strategy in Fife Council areas involves a fortnightly residual waste collection and a monthly recycling pick-up. Kitchen and garden waste are collected every two weeks.

The trials have implemented less frequent residual collections and more frequent recycling collections including the first implemented monthly collection of residual waste in the Great Britain, following trials in Banbridge in Northern Ireland.

In Markinch and Coaltown of Balgonie, blue, grey and green bins are collected every three weeks, while the communities of Thornton and Stenton have their blue and grey bins emptied every four weeks and their green bins emptied every fortnight.

Thornton and Stenton have shown the greatest improvement in both measures. This suggests that perhaps a less frequent residual waste collection and a more frequent recycling collection is the most successful method for boosting recycling and reducing landfill waste.

Brown bins are currently emptied every two weeks in both trial areas, but from December 2015 to February 2016, a four-week collection was trialled.

This resulted in a higher number of bins being presented for collection compared to the same time the previous year. Thornton and Stenton again showed the highest increase, from 42 to 54 per cent, with Markinch and Coaltown of Balgonie increasing bin presentation from 41 to 49 per cent.

Fife Council Executive Committee has previously estimated that introducing the changes tested in the trials across the whole council area could save £350,000 a year, and possibly over £900,000 a year by 2021.

Fife currently pays around £10 million per year in landfill fees.

Few issues arising

The bin trials are being operated and monitored by Resource Efficient Solutions LLP (RES), which is continuing to monitor the trials by measuring recycling participation and analysing waste types present in each bin.

It reports that there have not been many issues arising regarding opposition to the trial systems. From a total of 4,000 participating homes, only 30 complaints have been received in total. In addition, contamination of bins has been low at less that 0.5 per cent.

Overloading of waste bins, measured by observing raised lids and side waste, has also been relatively low, with an average of 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent per route seen in MarkInch/Coaltown of Balgonie and Thorton/Stenton areas, respectively.

Recycling points situated within trial areas have also been monitored by RES, but no fly-tipping issues or overflowing bins have been noted.

RES will conduct door-to-door and online surveys during the spring to gather public opinion of the trials.

‘Very few problems’ in trial areas

Councillor John Wincott, Sustainability Champion said: “Residents in both trial areas have been doing very well. These results show how much waste was going in the blue bins that can be recycled and, by providing more space for recycling, we have managed to reduce landfill waste. In the trial areas there have been very few problems with waste going in the wrong bins, and no increase in fly-tipping in these areas.

“People may have seen recycling advisors in the trial areas; they’ve been busy visiting householders and attending events in these locations to help people to adapt.”

Wincott concluded: “Later this year, once the monitoring of the trial is complete, a report will be sent to the council’s Executive Committee. Councillors will then decide if either trial will be rolled out across Fife.”

More information about the monthly collections in Fife can be found in the feature article in Resource 83.