The Borders is falling behind most of the rest of Scotland in terms of the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
According to figures released this week by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the country as a whole recycled more waste (1.12 million tonnes) than it sent to landfill (1.11 million tonnes) for the first time in 2017.
However, when that is broken down into council areas, Borderers sent 57.2% of its waste to landfill – the third largest percentage in Scotland, behind Glasgow (67.2%) and the Western Isles (64.7%).
That percentage for Scottish Borders Council is slightly better than that of 2016 (59.1%), but while it appears to be heading in the right direction, it still has some way to go to catch up with our neighbours.
And the Borders was also third highest in the weight of waste sent to landfill per person (0.27 tonnes) along with Argyll and Bute, and Aberdeenshire. Only the Western Isles (0.35 tonnes) and Highland (0.31 tonnes) were higher.
Our region did manage to recycle 0.9% more of its waste than in 2016, and that is what the council chose to highlight when we asked for comment.
A spokesman told us: “SEPA’s annual report shows an increase in the amount of waste being recycled and a reduction in the level of waste being sent to landfill in the Borders. The council thanks Borders households who have played their part by recycling and with Recycle Week currently under way, would encourage all residents to think about how they can recycle more, in particular plastics.
“As part of the council’s waste management plan, which aims to deliver a waste service which is fit for purpose, financially sustainable and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, a number of positive steps have been taken in recent years.
“These include various community recycling centre upgrades, a new food waste collection service, new cooking oil collection service introduced at all our recycling centres this year and the opening of our third reuse cabin this week at Eshiels Recycling Centre, which allows unwanted household items to be reused by local social enterprises.”
The spokesman also remarked upon the fact that the council ranks third best [for recycling] in the “rural family group” of Scottish councils (Western Isles, Argyll and Bute, Shetland, Highland, Orkney, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Aberdeenshire) which, the council says, demonstrates the difficulty of recycling in rural areas.
As far as future planning is concerned, the council has started building its new waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, which will store waste before it is taken out of the region by lorries, most likely to sites in England or Wales.
The spokesman added: “Construction of the new waste transfer station at Easter Langlee is under way, which will allow waste to be diverted away from landfill, and will assist the council in complying with landfill bans that come into force in 2021.
“It will also assist the council in working towards national and European recycling and landfill targets.”