BIN collections across East Lothian could go fortnightly, if controversial new recycling plans are introduced by environment chiefs.
The cutback from weekly uplifts is one option being considered by the local authority in a bid to save money, encourage recycling and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
While there is universal political agreement more must done to boost recycling, opposition SNP councillors have argued the step could lead to overflowing bins and collection problems similar to those seen across Edinburgh.
Former council leader David Berry said: “The administration is insisting they are going to reintroduce free uplifts which means there’s going to be several hundred thousand spent doing special uplifts.
“If we do recycling well enough then fortnightly bin collections make sense. We are not against it in principle, it’s just too premature.
“Our argument would be to retain the special uplift charge, introduce food waste bins and continue weekly collections. At this moment the bins are still fairly full. I think it’s conceivable that if we move to fortnightly collections there will be overflowing bins and health and safety concerns with vermin.”
Susan Guy, project coordinator of eco group Sustaining Dunbar, said a firm recycling plan would need to be in place across East Lothian.
She said: “Scrapping the weekly bin collections is probably going to have an effect on people’s behaviour. It could really be bad if recycling systems were not in place; it could really be good if all recycling systems were sound.”
The authority today admitted an options document is being prepared on the issue.
A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “The Scottish Government’s legislation and policy relating to the Zero Waste Strategy directs the council to shape its domestic and trade waste collection systems to achieve higher recycling figures and reduce the amount of waste produced.
“One of the immediate drivers is a requirement to provide a dedicated food waste collection service. An options document is being prepared on waste management strategy, addressing such issues as the types of materials collected, and the method and the frequency of collections. This will allow the council to make an informed judgment.”
The recycling rate in East Lothian is 43.3 per cent.
All Scottish authorities are under pressure to cut waste ahead of a European directive coming into force in 2015.
The Labour group, which shares power with the Conservatives, has backed plans to reintroduce free special uplifts for bulky items. Plans have also been mooted to introduce food waste bins.