A pilot scheme to collect residual waste every four weeks has been launched by Fife council – the first trial of its kind in the UK.
And, a separate trial to monitor the impact of three weekly refuse collections on households in the Scottish district has also been set up.
The trials started yesterday (September 23) and will run for at least nine months with a reduced frequency of residual waste across the communities of Markinch, Coaltown of Balgorie, Thornton and Stenton.
In contrast, the frequency of plastics and cans collections will increase from four-weekly to three-weekly in one trial area, and fortnightly in the other. Paper and card collections will remain unchanged in Thornton and Stenton, while in Markinch and Coaltown of Blagorie they will increase to a three-weekly service.
Extensive monitoring will be carried out both before and while the trials are ongoing to monitor recycling rates, analyse bin contents and respond to customer feedback.
Analysis carried out by the council has revealed that over half of the refuse in blue landfill bins could be recycled – 25% was food waste, 19% was plastic packaging and cans and 8% was paper and cardboard. Another 16% of waste in landfill bins could go to recycling points or centres.
According to Fife council, landfill currently costs the authority £10 million a year.
It is estimated that the council could save £350,000 a year in the short term from fully rolling out either of the options being trialled, rising to £900,000 after 2021 when the ban on landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste comes into force in Scotland (see letsrecycle.com story).
Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment at Fife council, said: “People across Fife have been telling us they want plastics and cans collected more often, so our trials are responding to this. In a doorstep survey we found over 66% of green bins were full or overly full at collection time. So, on one trial route we’ll empty them every three weeks, and on the other route we’ll empty them fortnightly.
“This is a pilot to get more information so that we can meet the needs of local people, develop a cleaner, greener Fife as well as reduce our waste disposal costs. If we fail to increase recycling rates in Fife, then we are throwing money away.”
Four-weekly collection trials have been proposed in areas of England, Wales and Northern Ireland – including Cardiff, Torfaen, Banbridge and Somerset. However, the idea has not always been well-received by householders who believe they are entitled to a frequent collection service.
Fife is the first council in the UK to fully realise the four-weekly plan, following in the steps of Falkirk – another Scottish authority – which became the first council to carry out three-weekly collections of refuse in 2014.