Council blunder sees food waste sent to landfill

Christmas puddings and other food waste have gone to landfill. Picture: Paul Parke

Christmas puddings and other food waste have gone to landfill. Picture: Paul Parke

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CHRISTMAS dinner scraps across Edinburgh have been dumped in landfill instead of being recycled after city chiefs made an error with festive waste collections.

Around eight tonnes of Yuletide food waste had to be diverted to the dump due to a “lack of appropriate storage” at the council’s waste depot at Powderhall.

Environment leaders have apologised for the blunder but critics say the department should launch a thorough investigation to ensure it is not repeated.

It is thought the botched waste collection would have cost around £800.

A waste department source said staff were “very unhappy” that truckloads of food scraps went to landfill on Saturday after families had painstakingly separated their recyclable material.

The haul would have included unwanted grub from last week’s festivities, including leftover pudding and turkey.

The waste department source said: “We weren’t told why but we don’t think it’s right that it happened.

“Food waste is supposed to be a top priority for the council but I’m sure this is the second time it has happened in four years – that’s a lot of food waste being dumped.”

The council collects around 2920 tonnes of food waste every year in a city that produces around 40,000 tonnes, according to 2008 statistics.

It spends around £135,000 deposing of food waste at a recycling plant called Scottish Water Horizons in Cumbernauld, where it is used to generate renewable energy.

Green environment spokesperson Councillor Chas Booth demanded full details were provided into “what went wrong”.

He said: “Collection and transportation is trickier at this time of year but it’s not as if the council did not know the festive season was coming.

“I’d really want to remind everyone that this is very much a one-off blunder and to keep using the food waste bins in 2014.

“Food waste that is collected separately is kept away from landfill because it is better for the environment and better for council taxpayers through reduced landfill tax.

“Incidents like this are a setback but should not deflect from the zero waste message.”

But environment convener Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “It was encouraging that so many people made the effort to recycle food waste last week, but the fact that much of it went to landfill anyway is extremely frustrating, and I apologise for what has happened. This was due to an error which resulted in a lack of the appropriate storage being available.

“I will be contacting the waste department to make sure that this mistake does not happen again.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com