Aberdeenshire council is expected to approve plans next week to move to a three-weekly collection service for residual waste.
The proposals are part of a new waste strategy for the region, which is seeking to maximise the “environmental, community and financial benefits” from the waste produced in the county. It also comes ahead of Scotland’s ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill by 2021.
Aberdeenshire council collects around 60,000 tonnes of recyclable material and 80,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste annually from 120,000 households and business customers across the region. In 2017 Aberdeenshire’s recycling rate was 43.7%, slightly below the Scottish average of 45.6%.
According to the council, an analysis of the residual waste collected from the kerbside suggests that as much as 30,000 tonnes of additional recyclable or compostable material is collected every year, at a disposal cost of £3.5 million.
Residual waste is currently treated via a long term contract with Suez, largely using the company’s Stoneyhill landfill site. The authority sent a total of 69,000 tonnes of waste to landfill in 2017, according to data from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Under the strategy, the council is proposing changes to its current alternate weekly collection system which sees commingled recyclables collected on one week, followed by residual waste on the next week. Food waste caddy collections are weekly.
Should the strategy receive approval at a meeting on Thursday (24 January) the council will seek to move to a three-weekly collection cycle for residual waste, collected in 180 litre wheeled bins.
One other weeks collections of recyclable waste would take place, with paper and cardboard collected on one week, and metal, cartons and plastic bottles the next, both using 240 litre wheeled containers. Food waste collections would remain weekly.
Following consultation on the proposals last summer, the council has conceded that there were other options more favoured by householders. However, it has opted to press ahead with the measure, due to the level of potential cost saving achieved by reducing residual waste collections.
In a statement, the council said: “Although a different option was more popular in the consultation, professional advice is that the alternative is most likely to encourage residents to recycle more and send less waste to landfill.
“By increasing recycling the proposed change is expected to reduce service costs by at least £500,000 per year, money which will be reinvested into other essential council services.”
Some changes have been included in the latest version of the strategy following feedback, with proposals to close the Portsoy and Insch Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) having been taken off the table.
Instead it is proposed that both centres would stay open two days a week, with the cost to be covered by slightly shortening opening hours at other recycling centres.
A growing number of councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have moved towards a three-weekly residual collection cycle in recent years – as part of efforts to encourage residents to increase recycling, and to reduce service costs.
Falkirk council was a pioneer of the three-weekly collection system in the UK as part of its ‘sustainable waste collection service’ which was first rolled out in 2014 (see letsrecycle.com story). The council achieved a 55.9% recycling rate in 2017.