Green bin collections cut as Falkirk Council asks residents to recycle even more

Changes to Falkirk Council's bin uplifts are planned
Changes to Falkirk Council's bin uplifts are planned

Householders will be urged to recycle more as Falkirk Council proposes to cut the green bin collection to once every three weeks.

If councillors approve the proposal when they meet next week a pilot project could be launched as soon as next spring. Currently green wheelie bins for residual rubbish are emptied every fortnight.

Householders in Falkirk district have five bins and can boast some of the best recycling rates in the country.

However, Councillor Craig R. Martin, Falkirk Council’s environment spokesperson, said more needed to be done to meet targets and save money.

Next week, councillors will hear that although Falkirk has one of Scotland’s best records for recycling, it’s still not enough and more needs to be done ... and quickly.

With those words ringing in their ears, they will be asked to rubberstamp a proposal to change the collection of green bins from the present fortnightly to every three weeks.

Dr Martin admitted: “We realise people might not be happy about it at first which is why we intend to initially have a pilot scheme starting next spring before rolling it out across the district.

“It’s not something we are going to rush at, but we want to get it right and take people with us.”

As part of its Zero Waste Strategy the Scottish Government set local authorities targets for recycling, currently demanding they only send half of their waste to landfill. This year Falkirk was three per cent above the target. However, things are about to get a lot tougher.

Dr Martin said: “By 2020 we have to recycle 60 per cent and by 2025 75 per cent, but by then only be sending five per cent to landfill. This is one of the main reasons we are introducing the three-week collection.

“Nearly everyone now has five containers – green, blue and brown bins, plus a black box for recycling and food waste bin. This has significant benefits for our attempts to meet these targets but we need people to come on board.”

He admits the food waste bins introduced last year have failed to capture the public’s imagination, with only around one in four people using them and putting them out for weekly collection.

They can include all sorts of food waste, including vegetable peelings, bones, out of date food and plate scrapings.

Dr Martin added: “Using this bin makes you really aware how much food you waste, whether you are buying too much or not using it before it is out of date. It’s an eye opener.”

Robin Baird, the council’s waste strategy co-ordinator, said: “Waste Scotland regulations mean councils have to provide food waste collections – even if people aren’t using them, we have to continue. We want to get people on board and realise the benefits of putting the right materials in the right containers – right now.”

Falkirk Council currently spends £8000 every day sending waste to landfill. With rising costs, even if there is no change in people’s recycling habits, next year this cost will be £10,000 per day.

An education programme involving talking to every householder is planned prior to the introduction of the new three-week collection service. The council will be working with Zero Waste Scotland to carry this out and Dr Martin vowed that at a time of financial constraints on local authority budgets there would be no extra money put in to tackle this.

He added: “Although we are recycling 40 per cent more than in 2003, we are still spending more money because of landfill charges.

“We don’t plan to introduce ‘bin police’ to check what people are throwing out, but the message has to be that we will be getting tougher. We must stop throwing money away.”