Edinburgh ‘needs to up its game’ on recycling

The city's recycling rates have been found to be poor. Picture: Danny Lawson
The city's recycling rates have been found to be poor. Picture: Danny Lawson
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EDINBURGH has been told it needs to “up its game” over recycling after a league table showed the Capital in the bottom ten of Scotland’s local authorities.

Just 37.2 per cent of the city’s household waste was recycled in 2014, placing Edinburgh 24th out of the 32 councils and well short of the European target of 50 per cent by 2020.

Council chiefs claimed the Capital’s performance compared well with Scotland’s other big cities and said new kerbside recycling collections would mean a further improvement.

The league table, compiled by the GMB union using official data supplied by local authorities to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, showed 12 councils had already met the 50 per cent target, including Inverclyde (56.8 per cent), North Ayrshire (56.5 per cent), Falkirk (54.3 per cent), Fife (53.7 per cent) and Stirling (53.1 per cent).

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Edinburgh council needs to up its game on recycling otherwise it risks being left behind by many of its counterparts.

“Fife Council deals with a similar volume of waste and manages to achieve recycling rates 16 per cent greater than Edinburgh.

“People will be watching closely to see if the new recycling schemes adopted across the Capital improve upon these disappointing figures.”

Aberdeen’s recycling rate was marginally ahead of Edinburgh’s at 38.2 per cent while Dundee’s (31.8 per cent) and Glasgow’s (25.8 per cent) were worse.

Greens said Edinburgh’s poor recycling rate carried a large price tag in the “fine” for sending waste to landfill.

Environment spokesman Councillor Chas Booth said: “In a time of unprecedented pressure on council budgets, it’s simply unacceptable that Edinburgh council is predicted to pour £9.3 million into a hole in the ground next year. This is the price of the council’s failure to improve recycling levels and tackle Edinburgh’s waste problem.”

Environment leader Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “Compared with other Scottish cities, Edinburgh is performing well.

“The majority of the top performers do not have the same challenge as all of the Scottish cities – namely a high proportion of tenement and flatted properties with a transient population.”

She said the new kerbside recycling service, rolled out in 2014-15 to around 140,000 of the city’s 240,000 properties, had boosted recycling rates and reductions in waste sent to landfill.

“As the changes are implemented across the city, I have been impressed by the willingness of people to play their part.”

Cllr Hinds said over the next two years the new recycling collections would be extended to residents of the remaining 100,000 tenement and flat properties.

She said: “There is always room for improvement, and we continue to work with communities to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, helping them to adjust to their new bin collections.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com