With green bins, blue bins, food caddies and glass boxes, Falkirk residents are already quite au fait with the world of recycling.
Sorting out paper, card and glass is commonplace in most households. However, the school report on the area’s recycling efforts would still read ‘could do better’.
The district might be fourth best in Scotland at avoiding sending household waste to landfill, but a new drive by Falkirk Council is aiming to improve that position.
Currently, 52 per cent of waste is recycled. By 2020, the Scottish Government wants that figure to be at 60 per cent, and the Zero Waste Falkirk campaign is hoping to smash that target, by asking people to get the Right Materials, in the Right Container, Right now.
As well as helping the environment, sending less rubbish to landfill will also save the council money – for every tonne of waste we send to landfill, Falkirk Council has to pay £72 – a figure which will rise to £80 next year.
Over the next two and a half years, adverts, workshops, talks and home visits will all combine to promote recycling in the area in a bid to engage the public and encourage their participation.
Each area of the district will be targeted individually for six months at a time.
Marion Robertson, waste minimisation advisor at Falkirk Council, described the campaign as a ‘call to action’.
She said: “We will be holding community events, going into schools, doing roadshows. Anywhere that the public meets - small groups, large groups - we will speak to them, as well as evening events like the Round Table. It’s all aimed at trying to reach the broadest cross section of all the neighbourhoods. We’ve got a lot of information to impart and we just need to find the right way to get it to people.”
One of the main focuses for the campaign will be getting more people to use their food waste bins, which Marion admits have not been as successful as council officers had hoped.
She said: “There definitely is a ‘yuck factor’ to it, although we’ve tried to make it as hygienic as possible. But people need to know that it’s going to a good cause, to make chemical free fertiliser.
“Some people think it’s going to be smelly but it needn’t be. And we have ordinary bins in our kitchen anyway so there’s no reason for the food bin to smell. It’s also important that people know that they can use any plastic bag in the caddy, as there was a bit of confusion about that when it was first launched. It’s also a weekly collection for food caddies so there’s even less chance of it being smelly.”
Another issue is contamination, and people putting the wrong items in each bin.
Marion added: “We need to encourage people to know more about recycling – people have a fairly comprehensive range of boxes, bins and banks available to them and it’s just a case of making sure people know what goes in each one.”
For Craig R Martin, council spokesman for the environment, the need to recycle goes far beyond just being green.
Speaking at the launch of Zero Waste Falkirk, Councillor Martin said: “This the next stage in our message. The public have done so well so far, but we need to do more to take the next step.
“The council budget is appalling and we need to reduce our spend. We want to be able to put as much money into frontline services as possible to protect frontline staff. We really need everyone to play their part.
“The costs are a massive strain for the council – if people can recycle more, then we will have more money for other services. Recycling is the lesser of two evils.”
Helping to roll out the campaign will be Kelly Rice and Donna Rodgers from Forth Environment Link. They are already working in communities locally to get the recycling message across.
Kelly said: “We have different activities in different areas. These include cooking classes which look at cooking with leftovers, as well as workshops where people can bring along items which need repaired or upcycling workshops where you can make something new out of something old.
“We also are hoping to have a Love Food Hate Waste cafe. Every community is different so each place might be having different issues. Older people who have cooked all their lives might not want cooking lessons, but perhaps a young family would. Saving money is a big thing too - by reducing waste, people can spend less money too.”
Also at the launch was Grangemouth man Dave Porteous who was presented with a gift voucher as a prize for being the council’s 1000th “waste watcher”. He completed a survey of his rubbish over a two week period, and completed a diary of his findings.
Marion said: “The diary involves looking at your waste over the first week, and then using our hints and tips to see how much you can reduce it in the second week. Some people are saving £20 a week by doing it, others have lost weight and some people have just been doing it as a challenge.
“By using the food bin, people realise how much food they are throwing away and wasting.”
Dave found the diary an enlightening experience.
He said: “I found it quite easy to do. I’ve always recycled as much as possible, but Waste Watchers gave me all the tools I needed to make it easier. It made me more aware of what I waste, and I’m not in a financial situation where I can afford to be wasting money. I also think that manufacturers are to blame a lot of the time, as many items say ‘not currently recyclable’ on the packaging.I do have more in my recycling bin than in my normal bin.”