Councillors have agreed changes to the way waste is collected across Aberdeenshire in a bid to meet national recycling targets.
New recycling schemes are being introduced across Scotland to help local authorities meet new targets as laid out in the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. Under the new rules, councils will soon be banned from sending certain materials, such as biodegradable waste, to landfill.
Changes to the way that waste and recycling are collected were approved at a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council last week. The new scheme is designed to help the council meet the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste targets.
Kerbside recycling provision is being rolled out to all residents in Aberdeenshire which means 25% of rural residents will have their recycling collected for the first time.
Councillors approved a new system of co-mingled recycling, which means recyclable materials will be collected together in the same wheeled bin.
By adopting the co-mingling option, the council can increase the range of materials it can collect at the kerbside, which in turn is expected to increase the rate of recycling to 45% of dry refuse and kitchen waste. This will mean an improvement both to the service offered to householders, and to the amount of material the council can recycle.
The changes mean that each household will have two wheeled bins, one for recyclable materials and the other for residual waste, and a smaller food waste container. Recycling and waste will be collected on alternate weeks, with food waste picked up each week.
It is hoped this system will prove to be more convenient for residents who will be able to recycle more of their waste and not have to separate their recycling into separate containers.
The new recycling scheme will not allow for the collection of glass, because of difficulties separating different types to a high enough standard. Residents will be encouraged to take their glass items to one of over 190 recycling points in Aberdeenshire.
The change will be phased in across Aberdeenshire over two years, beginning late in 2013 or early 2014.
The new collection arrangements are expected to cost £18 million annually, just under £3 million more than the amount spent on waste and recycling collections in 2012/13.
There will be an extra £3.6 million in one-off costs for improvements to the depot infrastructure, necessary plant machinery and the purchase of extra bins. Aberdeenshire Council plans to submit bids to the Food Waste Collection Fund, created by Zero Waste Scotland, to help meet these costs.
The changes also mean that extra collection crew will be recruited to help deal with the extra workload. This type of waste and recycling collection has already been adopted by 17 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland.
The recycling and waste proposal was the subject of lengthy debate at the full council meeting, before it was approved by a vote of 36 councillors for, to 30 against.
A number of elected members voiced concern at a lack of consultation with the Aberdeenshire community.
Councillors heard that, while consultation on different options would not be appropriate because of the council’s obligation to make certain changes in order to comply with Scottish Government rules, there will be extensive community engagement across Aberdeenshire.
Ellon and District councillor Rob Merson proposed a motion to delay any changes in order for more extensive consultation with the local community. The motion was backed by a number of councillors.
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, councillor Peter Argyle, emphasised that changes had to be adopted without haste in order for the council to comply with Scottish Government legislation and to take full advantage of funding available from the Food Waste Collection fund.
The changes have also been fully debated at meetings of each of the six area committees.
Waste management in Aberdeenshire has changed significantly since 2001 and will continue to change as the council introduces new and improved services to make it easier for people to recycle more material, in a way that suits them.
The council will continue to try and make recycling an every day behaviour for Aberdeenshire residents, businesses and visitors.