Borders council second worst in Scotland for sending rubbish to landfill, figures reveal

The waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, near Galashiels.
The waste transfer station at Easter Langlee, near Galashiels.

Scottish Borders Council’s record for recycling waste has been trashed by new figures revealing it to be the second worst local authority in the country for sending rubbish to landfill tips.

Statistics released by the Scottish Government show that 30,671 tonnes of household rubbish was sent to the authority’s now-closed Easter Langlee dump during 2018.

That compares to 26,688 tonnes of rubbish sent to the tip near Galashiels in 2011.

That figure means 58.4% of rubbish collected from wheelie bins around the region ended up in landfill.

It comes as the Scottish Government continues to set ambitious targets for reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, ready for an eventual ban.

Only Glasgow City Council sent a bigger percentage, at 68.3%, of its household waste to be buried during the same 12-month period.

Neighbouring authorities such as West Lothian’s council, on 24.4%, Midlothian’s, on 29.4%, East Lothian’s, on 42.9%, and Dumfries and Galloway, on 44.2%, all performed much better in the drive to do away with landfill.

The authority’s recycling record has also come under critical scrutiny.

In 2018, only 20,365 tonnes of collected waste, 38.8% of the total, was recycled, more than a full percentage point less than was achieved in 2017, 21,234 tonnes accounting for 39.9% of the total then.

That again compares poorly with neighbouring areas such as East Lothian, on 51.8%, Midlothian, on 51.4%, Dumfries and Galloway, on 50.5%, and West Lothian, on 48.5%.

The Scottish Government expects 70% of all waste collected to be recycled by 2025.

Bosses at Scottish Borders Council say a series of initiatives have or are being launched to improve their performance.

They believe the recent closure of the Easter Langlee landfill site, along with the creation of a waste transfer station there, and a contract for turning rubbish into fuel will bring their landfill totals down.

A spokesperson said: “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.

“This summer has seen the closure of the Borders’ only landfill site at Easter Langlee, with waste previously sent there now going to our waste transfer stations including a new purpose-built facility at Easter Langlee.

“The waste is then transported to a facility in West Lothian, where the majority of the waste is treated to produce a refuse-derived fuel, to generate heat and electricity, as well as recover materials which can be recycled.”

Although there has been widespread anger over the end of garden waste collections and condemnation of changes in operating hours at local recycling centres, bosses at Newtown believe recent improvements will start to herald better results.

The spokesperson added: “Positive projects in recent years include various community recycling centre upgrades, a new food waste collection service, new cooking oil collection service introduced at all our recycling centres and the opening of our third reuse cabin at Eshiels recycling centre, which allows unwanted household items to be reused by local social enterprises.

“We have also launched a new campaign called Millions of Reasons to Recycle, which is encouraging people to put the right waste in the right bin, with an advertising campaign beginning next week as part of Scotland’s Recycle Week campaign.”

As well as the multiple trips now needed to Levenseat’s treatment centre in South Lanarkshire, the council sends its dry recyclabes on an even longer journey, to a recycling site in Hartlepool.