Comment: ‘Most people want to do the right thing’

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An awful lot of people will be worried by the city’s plans to shrink our wheelie bins to just 60 per cent of their current size.

It is another sharp reduction in the amount of rubbish – the household waste that gets dumped in landfill – that Edinburgh City Council is prepared to pick up from our homes. For the 140,000 homes that receive a kerbside collection, it means that the amount of this kind of rubbish the council will collect has shrunk to almost a quarter in just two years, following the introduction of fortnightly bin rounds.

We all know that we need to recycle more in Edinburgh – and not just for the future of the planet. Our story yesterday about the £1 million fine that the city has received for failing to hit EU recycling targets is a reminder, should one be needed, of the other penalties to pay.

An important part of the changes that the council is rolling out in the autumn will make it easier to recycle more of our household waste. Getting rid of the current collection of various boxes and bins and replacing them with a single big wheelie bin and one box is a huge improvement. Most people want to do the right thing, but are put off by practical problems like a lack of convenient space for all those different collection boxes. This will be a huge improvement.

The difficulty comes with the dramatic drop in the size of our rubbish bins. Many families find they fill or nearly fill their’s by the end of a regular fortnight, even those that recycle, and the prospect of missing a single bin collection can create big problems. Many will be scratching their heads wondering if this “green” initiative will increase their carbon footprint by forcing them to make extra car trips to the tip with their own bin bags.

It is true that similar systems have worked in other areas, but this is a major change for the Capital which should be tested in carefully monitored trials before being introduced across the city.