Major changes to how rubbish is collected in the Highlands are in the pipeline – but plans to cut collections to once every three weeks to save money are not among them.
Highland Council is facing a significant budget gap of between £60m and £70m in 2024-25, prompting a wide-ranging review of the services it is able to offer.
Other councils across the UK – including in neighbouring Argyll and Bute – have reduced refuse collections to once every three weeks to cut costs and encourage recycling.
An extra recycling bin will be introduced to many north households next April.
But landfill bins will still be collected once a fortnight.
They will, however, be significantly smaller as part of a drive to increase the amount of waste that is recycled.
What is changing with Highland bins?
The changes are being funded by a £6.5m investment from the Scottish Government to modernise recycling.
Currently, most households in the north have two bins – a green one for landfill and a blue one for recycling.
From next spring, the green bin will be repurposed for recycling “mixed containers”.
That means plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, as well as cans, tins, foil and cartons.
The blue bin will be for recycling paper and card.
Each of those bins will be emptied once a month.
A new grey bin will be delivered to homes for landfill use. But it’ll be 140 litres instead of the current 240 litres.
For homes which don’t currently have a food waste collection bin it’ll be 180 litres.
A spokesman for Highland Council said: “Refuse collections will remain on a fortnightly frequency.
“The paper and card bin will be collected every four weeks and the plastic, metals and cartons bin will be collected every four weeks – both of which alternate so the recycling collections will also remain on a fortnightly frequency.”
Two in three Inverness households not using food waste bin regularly
Food waste bins are already being used in Inverness – but only by around 35% of households.
Another 14,500 homes will be added to the scheme in Ross and Cromarty next April.
A further 5,500 in Nairn and Auldearn as well as around 3,000 in and around the Inverness area will follow in May.
The council is planning to ramp up its communications on the food waste service to encourage more people to use it.
Councillor Graham MacKenzie, who chairs the communities and place committee that is overseeing the changes, said: “We’re trying to cut down on waste by providing an opportunity for a greater number of people to have these bins.
“It’s an attempt to encourage more recycling and less use of landfill. Alongside this, we have a plan to eliminate landfill by 2025.
“What I do know is that in my own area [Dingwall and Seaforth] when people hear about these food waste bins in Inverness, they say ‘why can’t we get one?’
“They would really appreciate one.”
The Scottish Government has placed a ban on all non-household biodegradable waste going to landfill from 2025.