West Dunbartonshire residents could be fined for putting litter in wrong bins
Enforcement action for using the wrong bins and a switch to three weekly collections are amongst options being considered, as the area attempts to cut down the amount of rubbish being sent to landfill.
By Democrat reporter
Enforcement action could be taken against West Dunbartonshire residents who repeatedly put the wrong type of rubbish in bins.
Council officers are exploring ways to boost recycling rates in a bid to address failed targets and an upcoming landfill ban. Plans to move to three-weekly bin collections are also back on the table.
The unpopular proposals have been mooted on a couple of occasions during budget talks and have been widely criticised by residents but have never been implemented.
The information was revealed at an infrastructure regeneration and economic development committee meeting.
It was revealed that that the local authority sent 13,790 tons of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill last year – well above its target of 12,000.
A report which went to the meeting said around 50 percent of that waste could have been recycled.
Managers said the pandemic has seen households produce more waste than usual due to more people staying for longer periods of time in their homes.
The Scottish Government is implementing a landfill ban in 2025 in a bid to meet net zero emissions targets and council chiefs say they are working hard to meet this.
The ban was initially due to come into force next year but was pushed back amid concerns from local authorities and waste management companies that the country is ill-prepared to meet the 2021 deadline.
Speaking at the meeting, Gail MacFarlane, head of shared services for roads and transportation, said officers are yet to find a solution.
She said the local authority was hoping to work with Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute councils as part of a joint tender for a waste treatment solution but this fell through due to budgetary complications.
Ms MacFarlane explained: “The waste strategy development is an important one for us.
“The landfill ban comes in in 2025 and we are preparing for that.
“We did look into partnering but we didn’t get a suitable response to that so we have been developing a different brief to try and increase the appetite within the market.
“We are working to put a solution in place which we hope will be up and running in 2024.”
She said a communication strategy was underway to educate residents further on recycling and encouraging them to use the correct bins.
She added: “We have seen a bit of a dip in recycling levels due to the pandemic in part due to the fact people have had more waste and they are putting it in one bag without separating it and we’ve seen high levels of contamination.
“Some is well meaning like the contamination of the wrong plastics but we also have contamination where it’s just normal waste put in the recycling bin.
“We are looking at ways to encourage better behaviour.
“We are also looking at the possibility of enforcement action. It’s not a route we would want to go down. We would rather do a positive behaviour change but recycling is important because that reduces our residual waste.”
Papers which went to the meeting stated that the plan to change the frequency of residual waste from fortnightly to three weekly has been deferred pending the outcome of the Scottish Government’s review of the Code of Practice for Household Recycling.
Ms MacFarlane said there wasn’t a date for when that will be implemented.
Councillor Martin Rooney, leader of the Labour opposition group, said: “I appreciate we have been on a steady increase but the targets are getting higher and we have to do an awful lot more.”
SNP councillor Caroline McAllister said she was concerned by the contamination figures and asked whether more could be done on making food packaging recycling information clearer.
She said: “The annual cost of landfill is eye-watering and I am concerned to hear we have high levels of contamination within recycling.