As normal bin services resume in Glasgow after festive chaos, new figures reveal the city is lagging behind the rest of Scotland on recycling.
Figures obtained exclusively by the local democracy reporting service show that in September 2021, 2022 and 2023 the percentage of household rubbish recycled and managed in Glasgow was lower than the national average.
It comes after the festive period saw delays to bin collections and rubbish dumped across the city’s streets.
In September Glasgow’s recycling rate for 2021, 2022 and 2023 sat at 28%, 24% and 30% respectively and by November, during the same three years, the amount of rubbish recycled and managed was 23%, 29% and 33%.
In December 2021 the figure was 21% and 23% by 2022 but the percentage for December 2023 has still to be released.
The city council says it has faced issues with recycling rates but has made progress since 2014 and changes to how bulk waste is handled as well as bin replacement programme has helped.
Statistics published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) last October also show that Scotland’s recycling rate rose by 0.3% in 2022 to 43.3%, with household waste arisings down 6%.
Labour councillor Paul Carey, who organised a meeting with the GMB last Friday to discuss the issues the cleansing workforce is facing, said the general public is fed up with their recycling not being collected.
Councillor Carey said: “The recycling figures have not really increased much over the last three years. This is supposed to be one of the council’s main goals.
“But for the biggest city in Scotland, these figures are absolutely shocking. The introduction of three weekly bin collections to encourage people to recycle doesn’t seem to be working.
“I think the recycling figures for this December will be appalling.
“I have had emails every day about the blue bins not being picked up. People are getting fed up.”
GMB convenor Chris Mitchell believes that one of the reasons recycling rates are down in Glasgow is because residents feel that putting all their waste into the one bin is the only way to get it collected by cleansing teams.
He says his workers are asking people to recycle and do their bit for the environment but are being asked “what is the point”.
Chris Mitchell GMB convenor said: “Recycling is there for a reason. First of all it is designed to help the environment, second of all it makes the council money and stops waste from going to landfill.
“We need the general public on our side to achieve that.
“They are now turning round and asking us what is the point of me recycling. They are washing cartons and glass bottles but their bins aren’t getting picked up.
“So they end up putting their recycling into the general waste so it gets collected.
“It’s not doing the planet any good because it is not getting picked up on time.”
Glasgow City Council says the changes to how bulk waste is handled and the bin replacement programme are contributing to recycling.
A spokesman said: “Glasgow has faced long-standing challenges with recycling rates due to a range of issues.
“But since 2014 when the annual recycling rate was just over 25%, there has been progress.
“The introduction of the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre, the bin replacement programme and changes to how bulky waste is handled have all contributed to improvements in recycling.
“New projects such as the on-street bin hub pilot, which takes an expanded range of recyclable materials, is showing signs it can make a significant difference to recycling for people living in flats.
“The expanded range of materials collected through the bin hub pilot will soon be replicated for almost 120,000 homes across Glasgow as we roll out a new recycling service for kerbside collections.
“As part of £21m funding package from the Scottish Government, we are also investing in a modern, state-of-the-art material reclaim facility that will help ensure as much material as possible is properly processed as recycling.
“We fully acknowledge there have been difficulties with bin collections following the festive holidays due to challenges with staff illness and other absence as well as disruptive weather.
“But residents should be assured that recycling bins will be emptied and any contaminating waste will be removed wherever possible.”
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