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Environment / Household waste recycling figures on the up

Figures have surpassed expectations according to committee chairman Ryan Thomson.

COUNCILLORS have been updated on how the new kerbside recycling scheme has been performing in Shetland – with some seemingly positive results.

Members of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee heard on Tuesday that the percentage of household waste recycled in the second quarter of 2018/19 was 11.2 per cent.

This is an increase from 7.6 per cent – the worst in Scotland – from the first quarter of the year.

The rate of household recycling is expected to increase again in quarter three as more households come on stream.

The scheme launched earlier this year amid a drive by the Scottish Government to better recycling rates, with Lerwick getting its wheelie bins in September as one of the last areas to come on board.

Waste management team leader Colin Bragg said that over 55 tonnes of plastic and cans were collected in Shetland from phase one of the scheme in March through to 31 October – double the amount donated to public recycling banks in the whole of 2016/17.

Over three quarters of this was collected from wheelie bins, with the rest coming from public banks at locations such as Tesco and Co-op in Lerwick.

Over 130 tonnes of paper and card were also taken in during this period.

Businesses are also due to receive wheelie bins by 1 April, while a new sorting shed at Gremista is likely to be operational by the summer after some delays.

The scheme has not been without its teething issues, though, with Bragg saying the council is monitoring closely refuse collections in built-up areas like Lerwick as general waste moves to fortnightly pick-ups.

The rubbish, which would previously been sent to Shetland’s waste to energy incinerator or landfill, is baled together in Lerwick before being shipped south.

Bragg said the council has managed to negotiate good gate fees it receives for sending its recyclates to processing facilities, adding that it has saved £11 per tonne of waste compared to incineration.

Lerwick councillor Peter Campbell said the figures were “very encouraging indeed – particularly the plastics”.

Committee chairman Ryan Thomson said after the meeting that the recycling figures have surpassed expectation so far.

“The start has been beyond what we could have hoped for at this stage,” he said.

“It’s a brand new situation for the general public to deal with and as I say, the figures speak for themselves.

“We targeted for simply an increase, and a steady increase year on year, and we’re far outdoing the figures at the moment, so all in all it’s very positive news.”