Resource Use

Falkirk to collect residual waste every three weeks


Falkirk Council has announced that, from April 2014, it will collect residual household waste once every three weeks.

Councillors agreed on Wednesday (11 December) to reduce residual waste collections from every two weeks to every three weeks in a bid to reduce costs and boost recycling rates.

According to the council, it landfilled 32,000 tonnes of residual waste in 2012, which cost the council £2.5 million. It estimates that if recycling rates are not increased, the council would have to pay around £2.7 million for residual waste next year (as charges to send waste to landfill increase).

It hopes that the changes could also help the council achieve its Zero Waste Strategy 2012-2022 targets and help it ‘set a total waste arising reduction target, on a per household basis’.

According to a report on ‘Sustainable Waste Collection’ presented to Falkirk Committee yesterday, the council’s move from weekly to fortnightly collections of non recyclable waste saw the recycling and composting rate increase by 29.6 per cent (from 6.4 per cent in 2002/03 to 36.0 per cent in 2007/08).

It highlights that by moving from fortnightly to three-weekly collections, the council could see the recycling rate increase by a further 6.5 per cent ‘with a cost difference to the current service of -£258,826 in 2014/15 and -£385,543 in 2015/16’.

The report adds that, on an annual basis, around 18,000 tonnes of recyclable materials are ‘wasted’, worth a reported £1.4 million.

It reads: ‘It is important to stress that the proposed changes would not see residents being provided with any additional containers. The authority already has all the systems in place to ensure the collection of high quality recyclate material and therefore requires only for the existing services to be fully utilised.’

Some properties, such as high-rise flats, will not be affected by the service change.

A detailed implementation plan will be considered at ‘future meetings’.

Changes could ‘save council £1.4 million a year’

The latest Official Statistics Publication for Scotland – Household waste – January to December 2012, show that Falkirk Council recycled or composted 55.2 per cent of household waste.

However, the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan outlines that councils will need to recycle 60 per cent of waste by 2020 and 70 per cent by 2025 (with only five per cent going to landfill).

Speaking of the changes, Falkirk Councillor Dr Craig Martin said: "There need to be massive changes if we are to reach the target of 60 per cent household waste recycled by 2020.

"We need to find ways to make savings without hitting public services, and this change in the bin system would go a long way towards doing this. We estimate it could save us £1.4 million per year.

"It is costing us £10,000 per day to send rubbish to landfill, and with this new system we have the potential to reduce that by £3,500 per day if everyone uses their recycling bins to their full potential."

Residents will continue to receive weekly collections of food waste and fortnightly collections of dry recyclables and green waste.

The changes to residual waste collections come ahead of the implementation of the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations – set to come into force on 1 January 2014 – that require councils to separately collect paper and card, plastic, metal, glass and, with the exception of rural areas, food. 

Read more about waste management in Falkirk Council.