Calls to investigate council's £3m spend on bin contamination

Households failing to properly separate their recycling into the correct bins was costing the council millions each year.

Calls to investigate bin contamination policy which costs Glasgow City Council £3m a year STV News

Recycling plans in Glasgow need to be investigated to discover why it was costing the city £3m a year to tackle bin contamination, the union representing cleansing staff has said.

It was revealed earlier this year that households failing to properly separate their recycling into the correct bins was costing the local authority millions of pounds each year.

City councillors were advised that the introduction of a further grey recycling bin would allow residents to separate their cardboard waste from their yoghurt pots and tin cans.

But the bins are not scheduled to be introduced to Glasgow homes until the end of the financial year.

Glasgow’s cleansing convenor, Chris Mitchell from the GMB union, is now calling on an investigation into the council’s recycling policies which he believes have failed. 

He said: “This issue started nearly seven years ago when the front and back door properties in Glasgow went from a weekly bin collection to a two weekly bin collection to promote recycling.

“The idea of more bins was to encourage people to recycle and prevent waste from going to landfill because it is damaging the planet.

“Once the green bin was full, people just put their domestic waste into the blue recycling bin.

“Seven years later, the council decided to move to a three weekly bin collection because they wanted to promote recycling even though their first policy failed.

“Around 180,000 booklets were sent out across the city to advise residents of the changes and what was expected of them and the benefits of moving to three weekly collections.”

Mr Mitchell believes that community meetings and education on the importance of recycling should have taken place at the time. 

He went on: “The council didn’t engage with the public, never offered any education and wasted money on these recycling booklets. 

“Cleansing workers noticed that people, particularly those with larger households, began to struggle with the three weekly collections and when their green bin wasn’t getting collected, began to put their domestic waste into the recycling bins which meant there was more cross contamination.

“A lot of material that could be getting recycled is getting lost and we don’t have the staff to deal with it which is why it is costing the council money.”

Glasgow City Council has confirmed that plans are in place to deal with contamination waste and that the grey bin is still scheduled to be introduced to Glasgow properties.

A spokeswoman said: “We already have plans in place to minimise contamination of waste by separating out cardboard and paper. 

“Around 120,000 houses in the city will begin receiving grey bins for separate paper and cardboard recycling towards the end of this financial year. 

“This will help us ensure the cardboard and paper is kept dry and separate from containers such as plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and tin cans. The new bins will reduce contamination and could save the council in the region of £3m a year. The service change is being supported with funding from Zero Waste Scotland.”

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