Recycling increase in Edinburgh after system overhaul

Recycling increase in Edinburgh after system overhaulEdinburgh’s new recycling service has been dubbed a ‘success’ by the council after the amount of waste recycled in the 140,000 homes receiving the new service increased by 29 per cent in 2015/16 compared to 2014/15.

In September 2014, the City of Edinburgh of Council rolled out a ‘streamlined’ service to households in ‘low-density housing areas’. The new kerbside recycling service, which turned each home’s 240-litre green residual waste wheelie bin into a co-mingled recycling bin and provided new 140-litre grey bins for residual waste, was designed to provide a boost to the city’s recycling rate by limiting residual capacity and increasing space for recyclables.

At the time of the roll-out, the city’s recycling rate was just under 40 per cent. It is now estimated to be around 41.7 per cent, with a Scottish Government target of 70 per cent by 2025. The council has missed the targets set out in its own 2010 document, ‘Edinburgh’s Waste & Recycling Strategy 2010-2025’, which aimed to deliver ‘a recycling rate of at least 50 per cent by 2015’. The document also said that the development of a zero waste facility in partnership with Midlothian Council would help ‘produce a recycling rate of at least 60 per cent by 2017’.

The fortnightly ‘twin-streamed collection approach’ that the council introduced in 2014 involves cardboard, paper, plastics and metals being put in the existing green wheelie bin and a new blue bin for glass, textiles, small waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and household batteries.

Although the council says the service required an initial outlay of £3.3 million for the new bins, the system is expected to save the authority £736,000 a year.

Figures released by the council this week show that the tonnage of recycling collected from these homes increased from 15,557 tonnes in 2014/15 to 20,095 tonnes in 2015/16, a jump of 29 per cent.

The new service covers the low-rise housing in the city, with a further 100,000 homes comprising of high-rise and tenement properties. The council data suggests that the increase in recycling provided by the new service has contributed to a 2.9 per cent city-wide increase in recycling tonnages.

The council hopes that the drive to increase recycling will see the city’s recycling rate rise to 44.4 per cent by the end of this year.

The council also reports that, across the whole city, the financial year saw a 51 per cent rise in food waste recycling (collected weekly). Over that time, there was also a citywide drop of 10 per cent in the amount of waste sent to landfill, from 127,578 in 2014/15 to 114,542 in 2015/16.

Work being done on recycling in flats

In the last six months, the council has also been working to improve recycling in the city’s flats, and has installed more than 940 communal dry mixed recycling bins and 617 communal glass bins, which it hopes will ‘make it easier for tenemental residents to recycle their waste’. More communal recycling facilities are planned for other areas of the city.

The council also aims to launch an interactive map next month to help citizens locate communal recycling and landfill bins near their homes. Other actions aimed at facilitating more recycling over the coming year will include the ongoing audit of recycling resources for communal properties, and the ‘grouping’ of recycling and landfill bins near tenements.

Residents taking to ‘cultural change’

Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “I am delighted with these figures, which demonstrate just how effective the new recycling service has been. Obviously, updates to the system have been something of a cultural change for those involved, but I’m pleased to see that, now it has bedded in, residents are really taking to recycling responsibly and reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill.

“We now want to see a similar uptake across the city’s tenemental and flatted properties, which are served by communal bins, and we are working hard to increase recycling provision and to make facilities as easy to access as possible.”

More information can be found at the City of Edinburgh Council website.

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