Edhan’s Blog: A Change in Recycling Bins

On the 15th of January together with LEAP I visited with Renfrewshire Council at Renfrewshire Recycling Centre in Paisley. This was to gather more information surrounding the change in bins regarding the new green and blue split recycling system, to allow us to understand and spread the reasons why this change has been made. The reason Renfrewshire Council now separates paper, card, and cardboard recyclables from plastic, cans, and glass is due to the council now sending these different recyclable materials to different recycling plants. This is designed to reduce cross-contamination and increase overall levels of household recycling. This aligns with Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan to reduce the overall waste going to landfill and increase the percentage of waste recycled. Renfrewshire Council household recycling rate is currently 47.8% by weight, at time of print, with the target being 70% by 2025. League tables of household recycling rates per council are regularly published by SEPA so you can compare how different council areas are doing.

For everyone, of course, this is a learning process and we learned that common mistakes can be made with wrong items going in the wrong bins. There is an item search facility on the Renfrewshire Council website where you can search for common items and which bin they should go in. I asked what were the main issues found with things in the wrong bins and some common items were Pringles tubes and other similar products made from mixed materials joined together which cannot be recycled, shredded paper which should be composted or put in the grey waste bin if you don’t home compost, garden items such as plastic pots being put in garden waste, and plastic bags which can be recycled locally at supermarkets but not in the council bins. In the context of recycling and garden waste, there is an issue if you put grass clippings and general recycling into plastic bags before putting it into the bin itself. This means that the contents of the bag can no longer be processed as recycling or garden waste and must be put into landfill.  This can be frustrating for everyone involved, it is an easy mistake to make but try to avoid placing items for recycling and garden waste into bin bags.

After picking up your bins your waste goes through further screening processes to reduce contamination. These include hand picking and processing machines to increase further the amount of waste that is recycled. The waste is randomly sampled at processing facilities and the council are charged for contaminated waste within a percentage band of contamination – this charge increases with the percentage. At time of print this percentage is 17% for Renfrewshire Council. So it makes financial sense for us all to reduce the amount of waste cross-contaminated and going to landfill, as this would mean less council budget being spent on waste, and more available for other services.

It was also interesting to find out the challenges that the Renfrewshire council face with waste. Around 30% of households in Renfrewshire do not have a single entrance front and back door per property, for example high-rise flats and terraced housing with closes. This can produce waste storage issues where high densities of people live. To support the rollout of the new bins Renfrewshire Council surveyed residents living in these homes (~18,000) to ask for their contributions to developing solutions and some examples include shared bins allocated where appropriate to allow more space in shared outdoor spaces, and the option of a half bin if residents tend to not fill a full bin on a regular basis, these options can all be replaced by individual bins on request if you subsequently need to. There is also the exception given to larger families or families with three or more children in nappies; a 60L bin if required. Renfrewshire Council have waste officers who will work with individual households on request so if you have any specific bin issues to your household you should get in touch with them.

Next month I will be writing about my diet and being beef and dairy free, the challenges involved, and thoughts on why we might all make a move towards veganism.

Thanks for reading.

Edhan.

Scotland’s 2025 waste goals:- https://www.gov.scot/policies/managing-waste/

Renfrewshire Bins Webpage:- http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/2155/Bins-and-recycling