Homes across Moray have been crowned as the best at recycling in Scotland, but what makes the region best with the bins?
Figures published by Sepa show residents in Elgin, Forres, Buckie and the rest of the region know better than anyone else what goes in the right bucket.
Moray is one of 11 of Scotland’s 32 councils to recycle more than half of its waste – but tops the charts at 57.8%.
The Press and Journal spoke to Marc Macrae, Moray Council’s economic development and infrastructure services committee chairman, to find out why.
How does rest of north compare to Moray at recycling?
Moray – 57.8% of household waste recycled
Scottish average – 43.4%
Aberdeen City – 41.8%
Aberdeenshire – 40.2%
Highland – 37.2%
Western Isles – 31.8%
Orkney – 23.2%
Shetland – 20.7%
1. Moray embraced recycling early
Could it just be as simple that people in Moray are simply smarter at recycling than others?
Well, that might be the end result, but it is a bit more complicated than that.
Moray has had a well-established four-bin and glass box system for many years now.
While Aberdeenshire Council is in the processing of rolling out an orange-lid third bin for metals and plastics, Moray residents are used to a settled system.
Confusion about what goes in what bin can lead to contamination and mean some waste is not recycled.
And the less contamination there is means councils can then sell on the material easier.
Mr Macrae said: “I think it is the case that people in Moray do understand what to do.
“Moray Council was an early adopter of recycling with the blue and the pink bins, and something we’ve been running awareness campaigns on for a while.
“I think it is the case that people here, particularly youngsters, make a real effort to put things in the right bins.”
2. More is now recycled in Moray
Moray Council already had one of the best recycling rates in Scotland, but in 2021 added to that by cycling even more plastics.
Previously only type 1 and type 2 could go in the pink bin, but two years ago changes were made to expand that to include type 5, which are predominantly pots, tubs and takeaway trays.
Moray Council also operates a paid-for garden waste collection, which is offered in Aberdeen and Highland but not in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Macrae said: “People used to have to be very careful about what you recycled, but we can do more and more now.
“The multiple bins might have been a pain in the start but we have created that attitude now of recycling.
“We’ve also just introduced bins for council staff to small electrical items, like kettles and hairdryers, to make sure less of them end up in landfill.
“One thing I’d like to see recycled more though is vapes, I see them everywhere. Some of them can be recycled as electrical items.”
Despite the improvements, some plastics, including poly bags, crisp packets and polystyrene, still can’t be recycled from home but can be taken to collection points usually found in supermarkets.
3. Has change to three-weekly collections helped?
The Covid pandemic forced councils to roll back on many of its services as staff self-isolated and to allow for physical distancing.
Bin collections continued through lockdown but with a reduced three-weekly schedule.
That change was made permanent in 2021 as part of budget cuts to save £129,000 with collections able to be done with one less vehicle.
However, has it also encouraged households to make best use of the bin space they have?
Mr Macrae said: “I think there’s probably a bit of that. During the pandemic people were getting so much stuff delivered to home that there was a lot of paper and cardboard.
“The pandemic also gave us a lot more time at home and probably allowed people to work out what went where.”