Edinburgh council urged to end booking system for recycling centres

A bid is being made to scrap the booking system for Edinburgh's recycling centres amid fears that having to make an appointment acts as a barrier to people using them.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:45 pm

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Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang has tabled a motion for Thursday's transport and environment committee, arguing the time for the Covid-inspired measure has now passed and calling for the requirement to book ahead to be ended from January 1.

He said Glasgow, Dundee and Perth did not have booking systems and Aberdeen’s covered only certain categories.

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Seafield recycling centre, like Bankhead and Craigmillar, has had a booking system since June 2020

And he continued: "Recycling levels in Edinburgh are falling despite the fact environmental concern is greater than it has ever been and I worry there are lots of issues that act as barriers to people doing the right thing.

“The booking system places another process and potentially another barrier to people recycling their waste.

“We should be making it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing and recycle – and Edinburgh does stick out like a sore thumb when you look at other big local authorities in Scotland in still having a booking system.

"Unquestionably there was a good case for having the booking system when the recycling centres reopened following Covid, but the need for that booking system has ended now.”

He said he could see from the council’s perspective the booking system allowed more control over when people visited the centres but from the public’s point of view it was “just another process you have to go through”.

The booking system was introduced June 2020 and a report to the committee says slots are usually available within one or two days.

Environment convener Lesley Macinnes said the appointment system had been “remarkably successful” and had helped even out the peaks and troughs of demand at the recycling centres.

"At peak times we were getting congestion, sometimes cars queuing onto the roads, there was frustration among some of the people using the site and some levels of aggression towards staff.

"We also had no method of controlling who was using the sites so there were quite often people from outwith Edinburgh using our sites to recycle their rubbish.”

She said the booking system meant there was no longer queuing, it had reduced the level of aggression towards staff and allowed social distancing to be maintained.

"It also means on the few occasions when we have to close a site, maybe because of high winds, we can now notify people whereas before we couldn’t and people would be turning up and having to be turned away.

"After the initial concerns when this was first put in place and people not sure how it was going to work, all that has died away. I don’t think I’ve had any correspondence in my inbox about a recycling centre for over a year. It’s absolutely clear it’s working and it’s working very well."

She said other councils were also using it and had experienced the same benefits.

“I’m a little surprised this motion has come forward without any previous discussion given the system seems to be working extremely well. We have positive feedback from people using the sites.”

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