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Recycling collections not hindered by processing plant problems

Shetland Islands Council's environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson.

THE PLANNED roll-out of recycling throughout Shetland will not be delayed by problems with the sorting shed at Gremista, with collections due to start next month in the north and west Mainland.

Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson said that all rubbish collected in the scheme would be recycled, as per legal obligations, but it would prove a much harder task for council staff.

He could not put a timescale on completion of work at the shed, but this should become apparent next week.

Thomson said: “We hoped to have the shed ready in parallel with the roll-out of recycling. We have been able to meet the roll-out deadline, unfortunately the building in Lerwick needs specific changes that are outwith our control.

“In terms of how the recycling will be able to be dealt with, it is not going to be ideal but we will continue with the space we have in the sorting shed. If it had been ready, it would certainly have made life easier.”

The committee praised the efforts of staff in achieving and publicising the roll-out, which sees Shetland play catch up with the rest of Scotland: recycling rates in the isles are a miserly eight per cent – 37 per cent below the national average and the lowest in Scotland.

A report by waste management team leader Colin Bragg says that “recycling is one of the most efficient ways to reduce CO2 emissions as it significantly reduces the amount of energy necessary to produce virgin materials.

“Kerbside recycling in Shetland would increase the quantity of materials recycled from approximately 220 tonnes per year to 1150-1750 tonnes per annum.”

The committee heard that the council will be able to assist elderly or disabled people with their recycling arrangements and will adopt a “flexible” approach, making the service user friendly.

Thomson said that he had been encouraged by the generally very positive response to the scheme and that even people who were staunchly against it had come around once it was explained to them.

He also he hoped there would be an element of friendly competition between areas in terms of their recycling rates – a “premier league of recycling”.

Bragg said that figures for recycling rates in the trial area of Muckle Roe were not yet clear but should become apparent in the longer term. He said that there had been some “well intended contamination” with people putting general plastics in the plastic bottle bin that was intended for high-grade plastic only.

The council would also take a softly-softly approach to enforcement which would technically be government by a “three-strikes” approach. Given the enthusiastic response so far, he doubted there would be much malicious non-compliance.