Edinburgh recycling rates soar 85 per cent

A RECYCLING shake-up that halved the size of wheelie bins for household waste has been credited with boosting recycling rates by 85 per cent.
Mum Rebecca McCombe with kids Aaron, 13, Samuel, 11, and Naomi, eight show theyve got the message. Picture: Ian GeorgesonMum Rebecca McCombe with kids Aaron, 13, Samuel, 11, and Naomi, eight show theyve got the message. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Mum Rebecca McCombe with kids Aaron, 13, Samuel, 11, and Naomi, eight show theyve got the message. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Environment bosses said the slimmed-down bins – piloted across 140,000 households – had seen a huge reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill.

It is expected the system will now be rolled out across Edinburgh. The new bins stoked controversy because they could only hold five bags of rubbish from a typical 30-litre kitchen bin compared to eight held by larger containers.

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Homes were given a new 140-litre bin for landfill waste, and told to use their larger 240-litre bin for mixed recycling, replacing red recycling boxes.

Collection dates were also simplified, with all bins being picked up on the same day. The changes do not affect glass, which continues to be collected in a blue recycling bin.

But councillors say the waste management overhaul had been vindicated by excellent ­recycling figures.

Households within areas ­already working under the new system recycled 3.5kg per week – 85 per cent more than the city-wide average of 2kg.

And average weekly landfill waste at those households was 4.5kg, 40 per cent down on ­figures prior to the implementation of the scheme.

Mother-of-three Rebecca ­McCombe, who lives in Willowbrae, was among the first to test-run the service.

“We recycle a lot more and it seems to be easier because you only have to put it into one bin,” said the 41-year-old. “It’s quite good because the bins are collected every two weeks.

“We need to be more environmental and protect the world for our children in the future.”

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Councils have to meet tough Scottish Government targets to cut the amount of waste going to landfill or face hefty fines.

The new system follows the controversial switch from weekly to fortnightly collections for general refuse in late 2012.The Evening News previously revealed how Edinburgh’s failure to meet Scottish Government recycling targets is costing the city council nearly £1 million in landfill tax fines.

Despite recent efforts, the Capital has missed the targets for six years in a row. Environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds welcomed the “encouraging” figures from the first few months of the new scheme.

She said: “The roll-out of the new recycling service is going very well, as the latest figures show. By introducing it in phases we have been able to constantly monitor and adapt to the needs of the public, ensuring homes adjust to changes

“It is essential that we make every effort to drive down landfill and increase recycling in the city to meet local and national targets.

“These encouraging rates demonstrate how our new ­approach is crucial to achieving this.”

Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government-backed organisation that supports local authorities to increase their ­recycling rates, welcomed the figures and praised the new waste scheme as a success.

The agency also hailed ­Edinburgh’s sky-high food waste recycling rate, which stands at 95 per cent.

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A spokeswoman for Zero Waste Scotland said: “These figures are a great indication the changes City of Edinburgh Council has made to their ­recycling collections have been a success, and we look forward to seeing the final results.”