SIC plans to invest in recycling facilities

SIC's waste management site (right) next to the waste to energy plant. Photo: Shetland News

COUNCILLORS are being asked to back plans to build a new shed and buy sorting equipment at a cost of over £750,000 to support Shetland Islands Council’s proposed new kerbside recycling scheme.

The building and machinery would mean the waste would not need to be sorted on the mainland, which would save between £59,000 and £97,000 per year.

The suggested payback period for the shed and equipment, which would cost £752,000, would be between eight and 13 years.

The plans feature in a business justification case which will be presented to the SIC’s policy and resources committee on Monday.

Householders across Shetland will be receiving wheelie bins next year for recyclable materials. Photo: SIC

They follow on from the council’s recent decision to give every household in Shetland two 240 litre wheelie bins as the local authority introduces kerbside recycling of paper, cardboard, cans, plastics and cartons next year.

The scheme – which will be introduced as a result of Scottish Government recycling targets – will initially be launched for 450 homes in Brae and Muckle Roe in March before extending to the whole of Shetland from July.

The business justification case presents five different options to house and sort the new materials that will be collected from householders before it is shipped south for recycling, as the Gremista Waste Management Facility in Lerwick is not currently equipped to handle the expected volume of recyclable materials.

The materials which will be recycled are currently being fed into the Gremista-based Energy Recovery Plant incinerator, which fuels Lerwick’s district heating scheme.

The option recommended to councillors involves building a 40x30m recycling shed and bale store with equipment for sorting plastic, cans and cartons at Gremista, which would “optimise value for money” and would allow for future increases in recycling rates.

The sorting shed would cost £485,000, while the most expensive single piece of machinery – a baler to collate materials – is estimated to cost around £75,000.

The capital cost of the shed would be funded by borrowing, while the total machinery costs of £267,500 would be funded through the council’s spend to save scheme, with a payback period of less than five years.

Other options include maintaining the status quo and use existing shed stores at Gremista and ship materials south, and refurbishing an old shed at Rova Head – which would cost £574,000 in itself – to create a store and space for sorting equipment.

Keeping the status quo would not produce clean baled recyclable material, which would reduce payloads and sell-on value, while a gate fee would also have to be paid for sorting plastic, cans and cartons south.

A projected local recycling rate of 22.6 per cent – which is more than double what it is now – would be estimated to reduce service costs by £24,708 per year by increasing recycling income.

The average national recycling rate in Scotland is currently 44 per cent, with a target of 70 per cent by 2025.

Zero Waste Scotland, which will give the SIC £579,000 for new wheelie bins, said that plastic recycled in Shetland would have to be shipped around the world more than 15 times in order for landfill or incineration to be a more environmentally friendly option.

Chairman of the SIC’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said all options for sorting recyclables need to be discussed.

“The council needs to find the best possible model for maximising the value of collected recyclable material and ensure the most efficient systems are in place on site to make sure that recycled waste achieves the highest possible value on the market,” he said.

“There are numerous options to be discussed and the council must ensure the right decision for the long term, both environmentally and financially, is made.”