Green bin legacy: landfill up, but recycling down

The withdrawal of green bin collections by Scottish Borders Council has resulted in a 5% increase in the proportion of the region’s household waste going to landfill.

By Andrew Keddie
Wednesday, 19th August 2015, 9:08 am
Green bin collections were scrapped in April last year
Green bin collections were scrapped in April last year

It has also been responsible for a 5% fall in the amount of waste being recycled.

In an update to SBC’s executive on Tuesday, waste manager Ross Sharp-Dent reported that 63.46% of household waste collected by the council in the first quarter of this year (January 1 to March 31) went to landfill, compared to 58.35% in the corresponding three months of 2014.

Over the same period, 36.27% of household waste was recycled – down from the 41.47% a year earlier – despite an extra 1,500 tonnes (up 3.6%) being deposited at community recycling centres.

Mr Ross-Dent said the trends were “in line with projections associated with the removal of the garden waste service” which, he acknowledged, was now saving the council £450,000 a year.

The withdrawal of that non-statutory service to 38,000 mainly urban households was a key element of SBC’s integrated waste management strategy drawn up in 2013. But that strategy – predicated on a multi-million pound incineration plant being constructed at Easter Langlee in Galashiels – collapsed when SBC scrapped the contract in February this year, writing off £2m in the abortive procurement process.

In June, the council set up a member office reference group (MORG) which is meeting monthly to review all aspects of waste management, including all kerbside collections and the potential for waste to be transported outwith the region for disposal.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the council’s efforts to come up with a solution.

Under Scottish waste regulations, a ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill will come into effect in January, 2021 while the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste strategy demands that 70% of all waste is recycled by 2025.