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Aberdeenshire Council approves controversial changes to bin collections

Controversial plans to change Aberdeenshire Council's bin collection service have been approved.
Controversial plans to change Aberdeenshire Council's bin collection service have been approved.

Aberdeenshire Council has approved controversial plans to send an additional bin to every household and only collect non-recyclable waste every three weeks.

The £4 million proposals to overhaul the council’s household waste and recycling collection service was approved unanimously by councillors at Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure committee today.

It means that instead of the current system where most residents get their two bins emptied on a two-week cycle, there will instead be a three-week cycle, and every household will have three bins.

The intention behind the scheme is to reduce the volume of waste produced by residents going to landfill, and increase recycling rates.

Non-recyclable waste will only be picked up once every three weeks once the new Aberdeenshire bins collection system officially starts.

How will new system work?

Here’s how the new scheme will work for Aberdeenshire residents once it starts.

Here’s how waste will be collected in Aberdeenshire in the new system.

In week one, the council will take away your non-recyclable waste from one of your existing 240 litre bins.

Then, in week two, the council will only take away paper and card, which you will have to put in your existing, blue-lidded 240 litre bin.

Week three is where your new, 180 litre bin comes in.

On the third week, the council will collect your new 180 litre bin, which is for food and drinks cans, cartons, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays.

Food waste will still be collected every week.

Concerns about confusion for residents

Councillor Colin Pike and some Aberdeenshire bins.
Councillor Colin Pike.

Concerns had previously been raised that the move to three bins on a three-week cycle would be confusing for residents, and result in issues like fly-tipping.

North Kincardine councillor Colin Pike said last week the changes “will confuse the public”, and they are “unnecessary”.

He also said a third bin could cause space issues for some residents.

Our poll of 755 Press and Journal readers found that 85% of voters disagreed with the plans.

Our readers expressed worries about problems with gulls, mice and rats.

However, some felt positive about the changes, and believed they would cut the volume of waste going to landfill.

Mr Pike said he was “disappointed” in the decision taken by his councillor colleagues today “but not surprised”.

He added: “Of course, the decision to agree this now but not implement until well after the local council elections in May might suggest those who have approved this already know that this will not be a popular decision, and are hoping that the public have short memories.”

Committee chairman insists changes aren’t ‘rocket science’

Councillor Peter Argyle, who has supported the changes to the Aberdeenshire Bins service.
Councillor Peter Argyle.

But at today’s infrastructure services committee, chairman Peter Argyle argued that although there may be teething problems as Aberdeenshire residents adjust to the altered service, he has faith in the “intelligence” of residents.

He said: “We’re not doing this just to make life difficult for our residents. We’re doing this for very sound reasons that have been much-debated, and much discussed, and it’s something we need to do.

“I’m a little surprised to see one councillor colleague suggesting people in his ward would be confused as having three bins.

“I have to say categorically that I have a greater regard for the intelligence that people in that particular ward, and indeed people across Aberdeenshire, and I think people will cope extremely well with this system, and not find it confusing at all.”

‘It’s actually very straightforward’

He added: “It is actually very straightforward. It will be one bin for that which cannot be recycled, one bin for paper and card which will keep it clean, and one bin for everything else recyclable.

“I don’t think that would be in any sense of the word rocket science. It’s very straightforward.”

He highlighted the importance of effective communication with residents ahead of the changes.

Mr Argyle continued: “But we need to explain that, and we need to explain the reasons why we’re doing that, and that will be a key part of the work that will happen between now and summer.”

Reducing waste going to landfill ‘imperative’

Gulls at a landfill site.
The council’s plans are designed to reduce the volume of recyclable waste going to landfill.

According to a council report, the local authority’s recycling rate was 44% in 2019.

By swapping to a three-weekly cycle, the council hopes this rate could go up to 45%-49% by 2023 under the new collection system.

Mr Argyle said said: “There is an absolute imperative that we have to reduce the amount of waste that we’re putting to landfill, or from later this year, from going to the energy from waste facility that’s being developed.

“We have to increase recycling for all of the obvious reasons — environmental reasons, sustainability reasons, and financial reasons.

“It is the right thing to do.”

When will this start, how much is it all going to cost exactly, and who is paying for it?

Find out more about the changes by clicking here.

Note: In certain areas of Aberdeenshire, such as Cruden Bay, bins are already collected on a three-weekly cycle.