ENVIRONMENT chiefs have been left red-faced after it emerged the switch to fortnightly bin collections has led to a slump in recycling and more rubbish being sent to landfill.
Weekly uplifts were axed in September to save cash and encourage residents in Edinburgh to recycle packaging.
The controversial move led to widespread backlogs and more than 11,000 complaints, with city council leaders forced to issue a grovelling apology to the public while insisting the new scheme would work in time.
However, new figures have revealed axing weekly collections led to 5000 tonnes of extra waste being dumped in landfill.
The amount – 134,100 tonnes over October and November – was higher than at any point last year and reversed a trend which had improved each month.
The number of city households using kerbside recycling also dropped from nearly 42 per cent to 38 per cent over the same period.
City leaders were unable to provide any explanation for the slump, but said it would take some time before the changes could be measured accurately.
Local authorities are taxed heavily for dumping landfill as an incentive to find ways to encourage households to recycle.
A third indicator contained in a report to the city’s environment committee showed the net cost of collections per household – which factors in everything from staff wages to petrol – rose from £64.45 to £75.25 per bin for the two months.
City centre councillor Joanna Mowat, transport spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Conservatives, said: “This new system is supposed to be saving taxpayers £5 million so the fact it’s getting more expensive for the reduced service is of concern.
“We were told recycling rates would improve and the amount of waste being sent to landfill would go down, so the fact the exact opposite is happening suggests something is wrong. When I asked them the reason, officials had no idea why this happened.”
We’re still being missed . . five months on
KIRK Sutherland, 28, a bus driver from Clermiston, said he and the residents of his block of flats are still hit by missed collections – five months since the system began.
He said: “It’s not impossible to think people could have been so annoyed with the system they haven’t bothered recycling, or that the system has become so confusing they’ve stopped.”
He added: “We have a communal steel bin which is collected twice per week, Monday and Thursday. All the trouble with the green wheelie bins system had impacted on us, so bin men sometimes miss both days and by the time they do empty, our bin store is piled high with overflowing waste.
“I recycle but I think the council could have been better prepared.”