Monday, 4 May 2015

Could SBC have combined food and green waste collections?

A detailed study of refuse collection services across mainland Scotland shows Scottish Borders Council is the only local authority in the country to terminate garden waste collections to save cash while no fewer than eight councils currently collect food and green waste in the same bin.

The Scottish Government's insistence that all 32 local councils introduce food waste caddies for the households they serve was one of the reasons given for the withdrawal of the Borders green bin service last year.

Local taxpayers (and gardeners) were assured axing the service was necessary to safeguard the delivery of key mandatory services "that will assist us in meeting national and EU targets". The downside was a lessening of Borders recycling percentages, although that home truth hardly merited a mention.

Service users were reminded the extremely popular kerbside uplift of garden waste was not a mandatory service. Its removal would save approximately £450,000 per annum which meant the collections could have remained in place for another four years had councillors not wasted around £2 million on that disastrous integrated waste management scheme at Easter Langlee.

But what was to stop SBC using the green bins - many have now been rounded up and no doubt sent to some dustbin compound in the sky - to allow a combined uplift of food and green waste? Such a measure could have trimmed the estimated £600,000 a year it is going to cost to roll out the collection of food scraps.

Our research has confirmed that eight local authorities - Fife, Moray, North Ayrshire, Aberdeen, Perth & Kinross, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire - have combined food and green waste collections, most of them on a weekly basis and the remainder on a fortnightly cycle.

At the same time sixteen other Scottish councils which have brought in food waste uplifts have retained kerbside garden waste collections. But thousands of Borders households no longer benefit from having green bins even though they were so environmentally friendly.

In sharp contrast, neighbouring East Lothian Council started a brand new weekly food waste collection in April, and their fortnightly garden waste uplifts are being extended to cover every property in their area. One is tempted to ask how they've managed it.

Aberdeen Council's website declares: "Your brown wheelie bin is for recycling waste from the garden, such as grass cuttings, weeds and leaves, and food waste from the home."

And on the other side of Scotland, in North Ayrshire, the council there tells its service users: "Fill the liners with food waste until they are almost full, then tie them up and put them in your garden brown bin. Brown bins are collected once a week throughout the year.

It's a similar story in Perth & Kinross: "Simply put your food waste together with your garden waste in your brown-lidded bin instead of your general waste bin."

There you have four splendid examples of local councils providing a first class service for local taxpayers. So why could SBC not have gone down the same route instead of adopting a negative and minimalistic approach?

The withdrawal of the garden waste service at a time when Scotland is striving to achieve a zero waste target surely remains one of the most bizarre decisions to be taken by Borders councillors.

No comments:

Post a Comment