Recycling crisis looms as glass firm pulls out

Bottle banks and recycling clothes bank behind the Tait Hall in Kelso.
Bottle banks and recycling clothes bank behind the Tait Hall in Kelso.

Collections of waste glass from commercial premises in the Borders will cease at the weekend, around 100 local businesses have been told.

National waste recycling firm, Viridor, has informed Scottish Borders Council it intends withdrawing the service at the end of this month on the grounds it is no longer financially viable because of the low value of recycled glass.

SBC said it was given only very short notice of the cessation of the service and has talked with Viridor and others as a matter of urgency.

“At this time we do not have any firm proposals in place,” an SBC spokesman said. “We are aware Viridor’s decision to remove this service has put local businesses in a difficult position and we believe our actions show that we are taking this very seriously.

“However, until such time that an alternative arrangement is put in place, the only advice the council can offer for the disposal of glass produced at commercial properties is via the standard residual waste ­collection.”

Although there will be no change for the moment to domestic glass recycling via public bottle banks, the contract between the council and Viridor to supply this service – which the firm has done free for a decade – is also due to expire. Viridor recycles 3,500 tonnes of glass each year from around 70 council recycling sites and more than 100 commercial partners in the Borders.

But Viridor communications manager, Martin Grey, says the value of recycled glass is not keeping pace with increases in operating costs.

“Viridor has notified the council it is unable to further subsidise the operation of this service moving forward,” said Mr Grey.

“Separately, Viridor has notified its commercial partners of its intention to withdraw provision on March 31.”

However, Mr Grey confirmed Viridor is in talks with SBC with a view to “securing the viability” of the threatened services over the long term.

Councillor David Paterson, SBC executive member for environmental services, who has met with Government officers over the matter, said: “If the government wants rural councils like SBC to continue to meet the ambitious recycling targets they have set, they will surely have to look at giving them more help.”