STUDENTS could hold the key to delivering an ambitious goal of making the southside of the city completely waste free by 2020.
The newly launched Zero Waste Edinburgh has been set up by SHRUB (Swap and Re-use Hub Cooperative) in a bid to persuade the community to dispose of 82 tonnes of waste they say residents throw out every week.
Over the next two years they will be working with 36,000 residents, business owners and students in the area to reduce waste and prevent unnecessary landfill deposits.
In particular they will try and end the culture of fly tipping when students vacate flats at the end of term time, blighting streets and green spaces.
The campaign was launched on Wednesday with viewings of two new films, live music performances and workshops at a festival of Zero Waste that was held at the Assembly Roxy.
Guests at the festival also swapped pre-owned books and clothes in a swapshop and volunteers decorated the venue with recycled bunting and handmade decorations.
Jill Farrell, Chief Operating Officer of Zero Waste Scotland said: “I was delighted to speak at the launch and meet all those involved at this fantastic event, with their tremendous energy and enthusiasm for tackling waste and environmental issues locally.
“Zero Waste Scotland understands the power of community action on issues like encouraging recycling and tackling food waste, and that’s why we are backing communities with the drive to make change happen.”
Tickets for the event promoting their planned projects to drastically reduce waste in the centre sold out within days and there were more than 200 names on the waiting list.
Zero Waste Edinburgh showcased their plans for a food sharing hub.
That, they say, will help distribute surplus food to those who need it with a carefully prepared buffet of rescued food – every morsel saved from being thrown in the bin.
The hub will also be funded by an innovative ‘pay as you feel’ donation model ensuring the most needy mouths are fed.
Research conducted by Zero Waste Edinburgh showed that some 58 per cent of the local community are actively interested in reducing their waste.
They say many of them are already making use of the available recycling facilities.
But their research shows a massive 82 tonnes is still sent to the landfill weekly.
That, they say, comprises of 27.1 tonnes of food waste, 7.2 tonnes of paper, 4.6 tonnes of glass, 2.5 tonnes of plastic, 2.8 tonnes of wood and 3.5 tonnes of footwear and textiles.
As well as the recycled food hub, there are plans to run a workshop programme that will upskill the community using materials such as textiles, bicycles, electronics and furniture.
A network of of zero waste advocates who will support each other in reducing waste locally and the expansion of student end of term collections to reduce fly-tipping and to foster better student and community relations are in the works.