COLOURED recycling bins could be axed and replaced with a single wheelie bin under a radical refuse overhaul being considered by city leaders.
Red and blue box collections would be dropped in favour of each household being handed a new bin to take nearly all recyclable goods.
The current process of collecting different receptacles on alternate weeks is also likely to end under plans to be considered by councillors next week.
The new proposal would see paper, cardboard, mixed plastics and metals all collected in the bins, while glass, textiles and batteries would be placed in a separate box next to the bins and uplifted in one go.
At present, the items are separated into blue and red boxes and a series of plastic bags and collected on different days.
Items would be separated at the depot. It is anticipated simplifying the system will save cash and encourage more households to recycle.
Edinburgh City Council must hit a Scottish Government target of recycling 50 per cent of all waste by 2014. At present, the figure is around 35 per cent.
The new system would affect all those with a green wheelie bin – around half of the city population – although council chiefs are looking at investing in more on-street recycling for those living in tenements.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said the number of receptacles has grown considerably in recent years – up to ten if bags for batteries are included.
She said: “We started off taking paper many years ago and then included glass. Then we added more and more boxes and bags and it’s got to the stage where we need to make it simpler.
“Another issue is that we hear complaints that the small boxes fill up too quickly, have no lids and can be difficult to lift, so having an additional wheelie bin will address that.”
Private contractor Palm Recycling currently handles recycling for Edinburgh, but the system – to be introduced some time between September this year and January 2014 – would be taken in-house when that deal runs out later this year.
Officials estimate this could save between £1 million and £2m and would involve taking on new staff.
Cllr Hinds said: “By taking recycling back in-house we will have much more flexibility over the system. This will create job opportunities and we’re already looking at dual-use collection vehicles instead of having bin lorries and recycling vehicles.
“In the next financial year we’re looking at saving £6m in landfill tax alone and that’s down to people recycling. That is money that we won’t have to take out of schools or transport here in Edinburgh.”
In October, Midlothian Council introduced a single wheelie bin along with a box for glass.
The local authority is still to publish its initial review of the system but said crews reported an increase in usage and that anecdotally residents have welcomed the move.
Chas Booth, environment spokesman for the Edinburgh Greens, said: “While I welcome any steps to make recycling simpler, the council should be doing much more to make recycling the norm, including in flats and tenements. Other Europeans recycle more than three-quarters of their waste, so the fact we’re still throwing most of ours into a hole in the ground is frankly shameful.
“Most important of all is cutting the amount of rubbish produced in the first place by clamping down on excess packaging and encouraging durable and repairable products.”