Edinburgh's New Town bins: Opponents fail in bid to delay new bin hubs until deposit scheme starts

Critics of plans to install bin hubs in Edinburgh's historic New Town have failed in a bid to delay the scheme until a Scottish Government recycling initiative gets under way.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:55 am

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Tory group leader Iain Whyte called for the introduction of the bins to be paused pending a start date being announced for the long-awaited Deposit Return Scheme, which aims to cut the number of glass and plastic bottles and drinks cans being thrown out in general waste.

Residents of New Town streets, where the hubs are proposed to replace gull-proof sacks, have warned of potential legal action to stop the bins, which they say would be a permanent scar on the Capital’s World Heritage Site.

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An impression of how a bin hub could look in the New Town

The council’s transport and environment committee last week backed a motion from Claire Miller, Green councillor for City Centre ward, calling for residents to be “supported and empowered” to reduce waste through community initiatives to recycle, repair and reuse.

She said cutting the amount of waste would reduce the number and size of bins needed on streets in residential areas.

But the committee rejected councillor Whyte’s call for a pause.

He said: “We all want to reduce the amount of waste produced and the council has to collect – and we have to look at every opportunity we've got.

Residents say the current gull-proof sacks work well and want to keep them

“The Deposit Return Scheme is one – let's take that opportunity, let's wait for it.”

Under the scheme, shoppers will pay an additional 20p charge when buying drinks in cans and bottles, which will be refunded when they return the empty containers for recycling.

One estimate predicts the system could reduce waste by as much as 50,000 plastic bottles, 60,000 drinks cans, and 7,000 glass bottles every day.

But the scheme has already been delayed from May 2019 to July 2022 and there are concerns it could be delayed further.

The council has already approved a £1.6 million contract for bin hubs at 1,750 locations in areas including Leith, Leith Walk, Gorgie, Fountainbridge, Portobello, Colinton, Morningside Stockbridge, the Southside and the city centre.

But further consultation has been promised with Edinburgh World Heritage and the council has said it is not obliged to spend the full amount of the contract.

Councillor Whyte said: “Residents don't want large dumpster bins in their street and are quite happy with the gull-proof sacks.”

And he said there were still no details of how the bin hubs would look, when they would be introduced or how much the new system would cost compared with the gull-proof sacks.

Councillor Miller said many people wanted to become waste-free or at least reduce the amount of waste they put out for collection.

“People are very keen to go green but it can be very hard as a consumer to avoid waste,” she said. “There’s a great deal of unrecyclable materials in products and packaging,”

She said she hoped the council could promote existing initiatives to help them eliminate waste.

"There's a lot of sharing sites online where some amazing things come up for free and where it can be very easy to give away things you no longer need.”

There were grocery shops which offered a refill service to help reduce packaging and projects teaching local people how to repair and upcycle items that might otherwise be thrown out as waste.

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