Are You Helping or Hindering Scotland’s Recycling? How can this be improved?
- Currently the contamination rate in the Household waste recycling streams ranges from 0.91% to 43.04%*
- The average contamination rate for Scotland’s recycling is 17%
*These figures, provided by SEPA, do not include waste that was so badly contaminated it does not make it to the recycling facility and instead is sent to energy from waste facilities or landfill.
Contamination in the recyclate waste streams is currently plaguing Scotland’s recycling efforts. Plastic is the main problem with people finding it difficult to determine which plastics are recyclable due to the range of plastic polymers and differences between recycling schemes. The BBC have estimated that incorrect recycling/disposal of plastics alone costs Scottish councils about eleven million pounds per year.
Kerbside collection of recyclable material generates income for local authorities. The better quality produced; the higher price councils will receive. If household residents do not separate the recyclable materials, or put the wrong items in the recycling bin, then the whole vehicle load of recycling may be contaminated and sent to landfill or incineration. As a result, the council will not receive revenue for the material and they will also pay the landfill cost.
Is Scotland Reaching its Domestic Recycling Targets?
- Currently only 44% of domestic waste is put in the recycling bins
- Scotland is working towards a 70% recycling target by 2025
It is clear that Scotland needs to increase both the quality and quantity of its domestic recyclate. How can this gap be narrowed? Education in the benefits of improving the quality of recycling is required across all councils. A poll conducted by Viridor in Scotland found; 77% of people would recycle more if they could see how the money saved was being invested in public services at a local level. The pending Scottish landfill ban will only increase the importance of achieving this target. When the Scottish landfill ban is implemented in 2025 it will be in councils’ best interest to do everything in their power to increase the recycling rate of their residents in order to keep residual disposal cost to a minimum.
How the Recycling System Should Work.
Most councils recognise the following materials as recyclates and will offer a collection service for; Glass, Plastic, Metal, Paper and Card, Garden Waste and Food Waste. In an attempt to improve recyclate quality and quantity councils are moving away from comingled recycling, thus simplifying the sorting process. The recyclate is collected, separated on a picking line and then bulked to be transported to the end buyer.
Why Should You Recycle?
Financial Benefits– Councils use profits generated to subsidise their costs which can reduce any potential increases in council tax for residents.
Environmental Benefits– Recycling reduces pollution caused from collecting new materials while conserving natural resources.
Social Benefits– Some councils give a percentage of recycling profits as charitable donations and others use savings generated to subsides other local programmes and projects.
What Can Albion Do?
- Albion can provide councils with a range of services to help improve councils waste management services.
- We can work with councils to develop waste management strategies to reform waste collection services with the aim of increasing recycling rates while reducing long term operating costs.
- We can undertake waste analysis via sampling which identifies council’s current contamination rates of both their residual and recyclates, and provides vital information to aid decision making. The results of this analysis can be used to identify areas where improvements can be made.
To find out more or to have an informal chat please contact Jane Bond on 01292 610428.