Changes ahead for waste collections

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Aberdeenshire residents are facing a controversial new three-weekly kerbside waste collection service.

Councillors are expected to rubber-stamp the option after the local authority failed in its bid to secure funding for a wider recycling campaign.

Whilst most of the council’s waste strategy is self-funding, the costs of introducing a new £4.27 million kerbside collection service was mainly due to be funded by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS).

But in a last-minute decision ZWS said it was unable to finance any service changes for councils largely owing to the potential impact that the newly-proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will have on kerbside recycling collections.

The council’s infrastructure services committee, which meets this Thursday, will hear that while there is currently lack of clarity on the detail of the new Scottish Government scheme, any DRS proposal is likely to significantly reduce the amount of drinks containers including metal, plastic and glass collected through kerbside collections.

Infrastructure services director Stephen Archer is recommending the authority puts a major service change on hold until there is further clarification on future charter-compliance arrangements and funding from ZWS.

The option would see existing bins used to “improve recycling rates in the interim”, with the non-recyclable waste bin emptied once and the recycling bin twice during a three-week cycle.

He will advise that given that some £3.2 million of costs for bringing in the new kerbside service was due to come from the ZWS grant, the lack of external funding will have “significant implications” on the council’s planned implementation of the kerbside service change.

He says the three-week option “is the most viable way forward” and would allow progress to be made to increase recycling rates in the interim.

Mr Archer states: “This could potentially see a rise from the current 43 per cent to 45-49 per cent by 2023. This could result in a cumulative net under spend position of £61,000-£1,204,000 over the five-year period…which can be achieved without committing the council to any additional capital borrowing.”

Councillors will also be advised that any delay in significantly increasing recycling rates will result in the council continuing to pay for landfill materials which could have been recycled had residents had an effective incentive to do so.

Mr Archer will also reiterate that there is no guarantee that there will be external funding available for Aberdeenshire in the future for a major service change to help to significantly increase recycling levels and reduce landfill disposal costs which currently stand at around £4.7m every year.