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Environment / Council needs public help to beat waste targets

The "very successful" domestic recycling programme will be extended to commercial waste. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

COMMUNITY initiatives are to play a major part in Shetland Islands Council meeting its zero waste target.

The importance of getting the public involved in tackling the waste problem at all levels was emphasised at a meeting of the council’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday.

Community buy-in was one of several strands identified in the zero waste strategy, which also highlighted recycling of commercial waste once a sorting plant is built later this summer and the future of the council’s ageing energy recovery plant.

A report by waste management team leader Colin Bragg says that a clearly articulated strategy that encourages a public change in behaviour and attitudes will help the council to hit its targets. Making things tougher are pressures like reduced budgets and an evolving market for recyclables.

The report adds: “A zero waste strategy will foster high levels of public and business awareness regarding waste issues – leading to efficient waste streaming and lower inherited disposal costs.

“Working in partnership with other organisations will allow the community to deal more efficiently with current and future waste streams, avoid duplication of effort and find the best possible solution for the community.”

It adds: “This consortium of organisations, businesses and grass-root groups will coordinate and facilitate a community based asset approach to waste awareness and prevention activities across Shetland.

“By incorporating key waste stakeholders and waste producers it will also help to coordinate environmentally appropriate, scalable and efficient waste recycling and disposal solutions within Shetland.”

Initial discussions have already been held between the council and Shetland Amenity Trust, COPE and KIMO, as well as a number of grass roots groups and council staff.

Bragg said it was important the council recognised its new role in this and in order to find the right way ahead, everyone had to be involved in decision making.

Committee chairman Ryan Thomson said the SIC had already had several public meetings and recycling measures were visibly taking off.

Lerwick north councillor Stephen Leask said that there was a lack of clarity over what plastics could go into domestic recycling bins, to which Bragg replied there were over 250 kinds of plastic polymers in plastic packaging alone.

Thomson added: “I feel that the council has done a very good job of stating precisely what goes in each bin through leaflets, booklets and the website.”