Whatever way members of Falkirk Council’s executive voted this week would have resulted in residents accepting yet another wheely bin into their households.
Two different options were suggested at Tuesday’s meeting in order to comply with the Scottish Government’s Household Waste Recycling Charter, which requires paper and card be stored in a separate container from metals, plastic and cartons.
The council’s current collection service is non-compliant with the charter because paper/card and plastics/metals/cartons are collected together in the blue bin.
Back in May this year, Councillor Paul Garner, the council’s environment spokesman, said the current system was “unsustainable”.
At this week’s meeting he put forward a motion to introduce a grey wheely bin which would contain non-recyclable waste and would be uplifted every fortnight, while the green bin would contain plastics, metals and cartons and be uplifted every four weeks.
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Paper and card would be deposited into the blue bin and be uplifted every four weeks, while food waste would still go into the food caddy for weekly uplift and glass, textiles, small electricals, batteries and nappies would go in the black box for a fortnightly uplift.
Garden waste would go into the brown bin and be uplifted every four weeks.
This option would create a £753,000 overspend, mainly due to the two-weekly collection of the grey bin.
Councillor Garner said: “It reduces our overspend, it improves the service and it ticks all the boxes for us. We have looked at all the options and this one is the best fit we have for the council, the residents and for the environment.”
Under council officers’ preferred option – and the proposal backed by Councillor Joan Coombes and the majority of executive members – the grey bin would also be introduced, but it would be used to store paper and card and only be uplifted every four weeks.
Plastics, metals and cartons would go into the blue bin and be uplifted every four weeks, while non-recyclable waste would continue to go into the green bin for uplift every four weeks.
Food waste would go into the food caddy for weekly collection, glass, textiles, small electricals, batteries would go in the black box for fortnightly collection and garden waste would remain in the brown bin for collection every four weeks.
This preferred option would only create a £110,449 overspend.
Councillor Coombes said: “I believe we should follow the officers’ recommendations. To be charter compliant we need another bin. What is being proposed by the administration is just a horrendous compromise where we still need another bin and it’s more expensive as well.
“I can’t see why we wouldn’t go for the option that saves the most money, if we’re going to have to have an extra bin anyway. There’s the possibility people would fill the bin with more refuse for landfill.
“There’s going to be an additional bin and an additional cost.”
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “There is not an additional cost, there is a reduction in overspend. It is not as much of a reduction as the officers’ option, but the option we put forward is the most flexible option, especially with the Deposit Return Scheme coming in.
“If someone comes along with a charter compliant suggestion that doesn’t require an extra receptacle then we would be happy to look at it, but no one has.”
Councillor Malcolm Nicol said: “I’m not happy about having an extra bin full stop and not happy about garden waste going to a four week collection. I’m not happy with either option, but it’s a choice that’s got to be made – one’s as bad as the other, but the cheaper option is the one I would support.”
Members voted in favour of Councillor Coombes’ amendment seven to five to go with officers’ original suggestion and scrap Councillor Garner’s motion.
The cost of the additional boxes for 73,000 households would be around £1.2 million and officers will submit a funding bid to Zero Waste Scotland for the extra containers. It was stated no change to the waste collection system would be put in place until at least the end of the current financial year.