10 March 2016 by Will Date

Fife continues four-weekly collection trial

A Scottish council pioneering the collection of residual waste from households on a four-weekly basis has reported further progress on its reduced collection frequency trial, as it considers whether to roll out the system across the borough.

Fife council in the east of the country has been piloting the scheme to collect residual waste every four weeks from householders in Thornton and Stenton since September 2015. A trial is also ongoing to assess the feasibility of three-weekly residual waste collections in Markinch.

Fife council has a four-bin system for recycling and general waste

Fife council has a four-bin system for recycling and general waste

The council’s arms-length company, Resource Efficient Solutions is overseeing the trial and claims that the amount of waste collected in blue landfill waste bins is down in the trial areas – in particular Thornton and Stenton.

But, despite the council claiming that the scheme has been successful, close scrutiny of the results has not been possible, as the authority has claimed it is too early to give final results from the trial.

Councillors at the Gelnrothes Area Committee meeting yesterday (10 March) were told that the tonnage of cans and plastics, and paper and card collected for recycling in grey and green wheeled bins respectively, have increased in the trial areas as a result of the residual reduction.

BinStandard 4-bin serviceMarkinch, Coaltown of Balgonie trialThornton, Stenton trial
Landfill (blue)2 weekly3 weekly4 weekly
Plastics and cans (green)4 weekly3 weekly2 weekly
Paper and card (grey)4 weekly3 weekly4 weekly
Food and garden waste (brown)2 weekly2 weekly (Dec-Feb 4 weekly)2 weekly (Dec-Feb 4 weekly)

But, due to seasonal variations in food and garden waste tonnages, which are also collected from households via brown wheeled bins, the council has claimed that it ‘has not been possible’ to tell if there has been any effect on tonnages trial areas – although volumes have ‘increased slightly’ in some areas.

“A comparison of total tonnage collected over the trial period so far with that collected at this last year is showing a slight increase. We will know more once a second round of waste compositional analysis is carried out later this month,” a council report claims.


On contamination, the council explained that it initially carried out blanket checks on all recycling bins presented, which was then dropped to targeted checks on residents who had previously contaminated.

“These results show how much waste was going in the blue bins that can be recycled and, by providing more space for recycling, we have managed to reduce landfill waste.”

Councillor John Wincott
Fife council

Fife claims that the number of contaminated bins has ‘not been high’ with 188 contaminated bins reported in Markinch and Coaltown and 193 in Thornton and Stenton, less than 0.5% of the overall number collected.

Councillor John Wincott, Fife’s sustainability champion said: “Residents in both trial areas have been doing very well. These results show how much waste was going in the blue bins that can be recycled and, by providing more space for recycling, we have managed to reduce landfill waste. In the trial areas there have been very few problems with waste going in the wrong bins, and no increase in flytipping in these areas.

“People may have seen recycling advisors in the trial areas; they’ve been busy visiting householders and attending events in these locations to help people to adapt.”


Further communications work is to continue to for the duration of the trial, while Fife will also carry out a customer survey to assess the popularity of the scheme amongst residents.

Following further monitoring of the trial throughout the spring, a report will be compiled for the council’s executive committee, which will decide if the trial should be rolled out across Fife.

Last month the council launched an appeal to residents across the borough over the contamination of waste in dry recycling bins (see letsrecycle.com story).

Fife recorded a 53.7% recycling rate in 2014, a figure which is expected could be closer to 56% in 2015.


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