Falkirk Council green bin initiative divides opinion - but drives up recycling

Kelly Bedbourough says the three weekly green bin uplift change isn't working for her family. Picture: Alan Murray
Kelly Bedbourough says the three weekly green bin uplift change isn't working for her family. Picture: Alan Murray

Six months on from the introduction of a three-weekly bin uplift scheme, opinions about the changes are still divided

Residents voiced concerns at the start of the year when Falkirk Council announced they were reducing uplifts of green non-recyclable bins from fortnightly to once every three weeks, with blue bins every fortnight and grey food bins being picked up weekly.

The change was piloted in 18,000 homes across Larbert, Stenhousemuir, Carron, Carronshore, Airth and Torwood areas with the changes coming into force on May 12.

Now, the scheme has been rolled out to cover Denny, Dunipace, Bonnybridge and Longcroft with the rest of Falkirk due to follow in the new year.

The Falkirk Herald spoke with two families who have very different experiences of the landfill waste reduction efforts.

Kelly Bedborough (37) is a working mum who lives in Graham Avenue, Larbert, with husband Brian and children Bryony (18) and Kyle (11).

She said the scheme does not working for her family and every week her green bin ends up overflowing.

Kelly, who works in Glasgow for an energy company, said: “We recycle as much as we can. But with four of us, and a dog, we create a lot of waste that can’t be recycled.

“Going three weeks between uplifts simply isn’t working. Every time my bin is overflowing and it’s going to cause trouble with vermin. Not being able to close the bins fully means the rubbish is more likely to blow away and there seems to be a lot more rubbish on the streets now.”

Kelly asked for a larger green bin for waste but was told only families of five or more qualify for one. Instead she was advised to fill in a waste diary and work with waste officers to reduce the amount going into her bin.

Kelly said: “I work full time in Glasgow and don’t have time to fill in a diary, and I’m sure my children wouldn’t write down everything they throw away.”

They were visited by a waste inspection officer who noticed their bin was overflowing and last month bags that wouldn’t fit into the bin were left at the pavement, meaning Kelly had to do a trip to the amenity tip.

She added: “It’s not working at all, I pay my Council Tax, why should I have to use my time and petrol to take rubbish to the skip?”

Evonne Young (37) from Crozier Crescent in Larbert was also apprehensive about the three-weekly uplift but says her family are recycling more than ever and their bin is never full.

Her family - Alan (37) and Orla (3) - find the recycle wheel, given to all residents before the change was introduced, invaluable.

Evonne said: “The change forced me to start recycling more and be more conscious of what was going to landfill. I think it’s been a positive thing. I was binning a lot that could be recycled because I had out of date information and didn’t know things like yogurt cartons and plastic fruit containers could be put in the blue bin.

“I will admit I was sceptical, but our green bin is never overflowing. We put a lot in the food waste bin and find that has reduced what can’t be recycled. I didn’t like the idea of having food lying around for a week and thought it might attract rats, but it’s been fine.”

‘This scheme saves money and the environment’

Falkirk Council is one of the country’s best performing local authorities for reducing waste.

The various initiatives it introduced have helped divert thousands of tonnes of waste to landfill, and within a year of the scheme being in place throughout the whole area, it is estimated to have saved £400,000 in fees.

Councillor Craig R Martin praised the local community for embracing the changes and doing their bit to help the environment.

He said: “Everyone has really got behind the initiative, they know why we are doing it and most people are keen to reduce the waste that goes to landfill.

“I’ve heard very few complaints, it’s been mainly positive experiences.

“As well as saving the environment, it’s saving the council money in charges for sending waste to landfill.”

Changes made to Scotland’s waste policy mean all councils in Scotland need to do more to tackle waste.

Each year, Falkirk Council pay over £1.4 million in landfill tax to dispose of nearly 18,000 tonnes of recyclable material. The figure will rise each year if more is not recycled.

To meet that, locals must recycle more, with emphasis put on food waste recycling, which currently many residents are not doing.

All the work done to tackle waste levels has been recognised, with the three-week green bin uplift scheme winning national awards.

It was given the award for innovation by the UK Chartered Institute of Waste Management and won Best New Idea at the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee Celebration Awards.

Dr Martin added: “To be recognised is fantastic but more importantly, we are reducing landfill waste.”

The waste roadshow will visit Sainsbury’s in Glasgow Road, Denny, today ( Thursday) from 2-7 p.m. with advice and help on how to manage your waste.