Falkirk Council’s rubbish decision will save money and create jobs

How the contents of blue bins are handled is about to change
How the contents of blue bins are handled is about to change

Falkirk Council has decided to cancel a recycling contract and do the job itself.

The move to deal with the contents of the district’s blue bins at Roughmute will create ten jobs and tipped to save hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, warned the executive the bill for continuing to hire private firm SITA to process the paper, cans and plastic collected is likely to increase to an “unsustainable” level this year.

The director highlighted the issue last October, but at the meeting on Tuesday said that since then the situation has deteriorated further and more issues have come up.

She revealed: “The average cost of processing blue bin material is now projected to reach £65 per tonne which will result in the council paying in excess of £648,000 in the current financial year and around £780,000 in the next putting a considerable strain on the budget.”

A review of the options included inviting four other processing firms to quote a price. Two declined, one did not respond at all and the fourth submitted prices higher than the one agreed with the current contractor.

Mrs Geisler told councillors: “Due to the significant shift in the costs, it is now possible for the council to consider processing the material using its existing transfer facility at Roughmute which already has equipment in place and would require minimal adaption.

“The key changes would be hiring ten additional staff to help process and handle the material and the one-off purchase of additional sorting equipment to produce quality material for resale by the council.”

The cost of recruiting extra staff would be £280,000 a year and installing the equipment - understood to be a large magnet to separate the material - around £200,000.

She said: “While this is significant, it is substantially lower than the fees we currently pay and projecting to pay an external provider and would result in a gate fee of £23.41 per tonne compared to the current market price of £65 per tonne.

“In addition the council would retain any income from the onward sale of the material after processing which would reduce this cost further, a practice now established successfully by a number of other councils.”

The executive was told the council’s recycling rate stands at around 54 per cent - and the campaign to ‘educate’ householders about what goes in what bin continues.

SNP Councillor Tom Coleman backed the plan for Roughmute. He said: “It’s a good operation managed by helpful staff ready to tell you where to go.”