A recycling check? An offer I couldn’t refuse ...

Simon Jeynes & Gavin Rollo. All pictures by Fife Photo Agency

Simon Jeynes & Gavin Rollo. All pictures by Fife Photo Agency

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Who’d volunteer to let a recycling officer to check out the contents of their bin?

The idea was mooted around the office last week and there weren’t many takers.

FFP Reporter Tanya Scoon with Gavin Rollo

FFP Reporter Tanya Scoon with Gavin Rollo

Fife sits eighth in the top 10 local authorities for recycling in Scotland at 53.7 per cent– but the target is to hit over 60 per cent.

I consider myself a fairly good recycler – up to a point, so I decided the spot check could be quite an interesting exercise.

Gavin Rollo, one of Fife Council’s five recycling advisors, along with Simon Jeynes, a technical officer with Resource Efficient Solutions, the council’s “arms-length” company responsible for household waste collections, came to my house to explain the ins and outs of household waste recycling.

And, after a run through of my checklist of questions on what could and couldn’t be recycled, I was amazed at how little household waste actually needs to go to landfill – and how much was just laziness on my part!

There are certain types of plastics which are not recyclable, but Gavin explained that all plastics should be put in the green bin, including cellothane wrappers around the plastic containers, and they will be sorted out at the plant in England.

Take, for example, those food-caked microwave meal trays. If it’s too dirty, then I invariably just chuck it in the blue bin, instead of soaking it a bit in the basin and giving it a rinse out. Likewise, the coffee pods for the machine – who can be bothered peeling the tinfoil, scraping the coffee grounds into the food bin, rinsing it out and putting it into the green bin?

As Gavin explained, it doesn’t have to be immaculate, just a good rinse out of the bean tins and milk cartons will do – and your bin won’t stink quite so much during the summer!

The only things I use that need to be sent to landfill are cosmetic items such as wipes and cotton buds (don’t flush these down the loo or it will end up blocked), and soiled kitchen towels which usually get flushed.

There are certain types of plastics which are not recyclable, but Gavin explained that all plastics should be put in the green bin, including cellothane wrappers around the plastic containers, and they will be sorted out at the plant in England.

Polystyrene is another which is not recyclable, while garden rubble and electrical equipment should be taken to your nearest recycling centre (at Smeaton) to be dealt with properly.

And, contrary to the myth that one item placed in the wrong bin can lead to the whole lot being invalid, I was assured this was not the case. If the refuse collectors spot it, they would likely remove it and leave the rest.

It’s only if you put a larger amount of the wrong materials in the wrong bin that you will get a sticker and it won’t be uplifted until it is correctly distributed.

“We are here to advise householders on how to manage their waste and bins correctly, so if anyone has a query on what should go in, they just have to pick up the phone and we will be able to help them,” said Gavin.

With recycling levels currently stuck in the mid 50s, Fife Council is looking for ways to push up to over the 60 per cent mark.

To that end, the authority with Resource Efficient Solutions is doing trials on 4000 households in Markinch, Coaltown of Balgonie and areas of Glenrothes where blue (landfill) bins are being emptied once a month while green bins (plastics and metal) are emptied more frequently.

“A lot of food waste which could be recycled is still being put into blue bins,” explained Gavin.

“All food waste should go into brown bins. These are then taken to Fife’s anaerobic digestion plant which opened in 2014, the only one of its kind in Scotland. Heat from the plant and the landfill site at Dunfermline is used to heat Queen Anne School, Carnegie Leisure Centre and some local housing.

“Glass is another thing which is often found in blue bins when it should be taken to a recycling point. It is just a case of educating people on what goes where and getting them into the habit of doing it.”

So overall, I came out not too bad in the recycling test. With a little bit more effort, I could get top marks!

Facts & Figures

2014 Fife recycling rate – 53.7 per cent - eighth out of 32 Scottish local authorities

Fife collected over 100,000 tonnes of recycling. In the UK only Birmingham City Council collected more

2014 Scotland average recycling rate – 42.8 per cent

Scottish Government targets

60 per cent by 2020

Waste to landfill - 15 per cent by 2020

Did you know?

Over 50 per cent of the content could be recycled

25 per cent of food waste could be recycled in the brown bin

19 per cent of plastic packaging and cans could be recycled in the green bin

8 per cent of paper and cardboard could be recycled in the grey bin

8 per cent per cent of glass could be recycled at local Recycling Points

4 per cent per cent of textiles could be recycled at local Recycling Points or taken to charity shops