Recycling revamp as cost spiral

The council has decided to change its multi-bin recycling system after spiralling costs forced them to turn to a Northern Ireland recycling company for advice.

The present system of a weekly lift of food waste by one collection lorry and a fortnightly lift of dry recyclates by another lorry will be replaced by one lorry lifting both food and dry recyclates every week. The residual waste wheelie bin will still be collected every two weeks.

The council estimate using one vehicle and fewer members of staff could reduce costs by £426,829 per annum.

In the last financial year, a massive £435,000 overspend on the multi-bin system was racked up after the council was forced to bring in extra vehicles and staff to cope with the workload.

The costs involved in the Wigtownshire collections alone put a halt to the multi-bin collection system being rolled out across the rest of the region.

Newton Stewart will now act as a guinea pig for the new style bin lift from March 28 as, according to the local authority, it has a good mix of urban and rural location.

The four collection boxes will now be used for:

1 - paper and cardboard

2 -plastics, cans and cartons

3 - glass

4 - food waste

The new system will remove the requirement of staff to separate different colours of glass, and cans from plastic, reducing the sorting time from 71 seconds per recycling box to around 10-15 seconds.

Scottish Government funded Zero Waste Scotland turned to Bryson Recycling to review the process and look for solutions. They recommended incorporating the food waste collection into the dry recyclates vehicles. They also want drivers to sort recycling instead of remaining in the vehicle as current instructions dictate. Bryson said the new method of collection would improve staff morale as they would have less physical contact with material and the feeling of being more productive.

Households who will be involved in the trial will be notified in advance via a leaflet confirming the day of collection and the changes in the way they are to present their recycling.

The news of the recycling revamp was discussed at Wigtown and District Community Council on Monday evening.

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes said he was surprised that the council had to have its recycling issues pointed out by a commercial company when, in his opinion, the local authority could have worked it out for themselves.

He added: “its a damning indictment on how the local authority has handled this that it will not be rolled out in the rest of Dumfries and Galloway.”

Councillor Geddes was also critical of a report from council officers to elected members on the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, ahead of their meeting on Tuesday, that listed the urban areas of Dumfries and Galloway as Annan, Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Gretna, Lockerbie and Stranraer, leaving out both Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas.