Contaminated recycling waste is proving costly for Fife Council

Glenrothes Councillor John Wincott with the contaminants from just one lorry-load of waste collected from brown bins
Glenrothes Councillor John Wincott with the contaminants from just one lorry-load of waste collected from brown bins

From blocks of concrete to a pushchair and an old engine block ... just some of the items residents have dumped in their brown bins.

These bins are meant to take garden and food waste, which is sent to the anaerobic digestion plant (AD plant) to be turned into methane and used in a special generator to produce electricity for export to the grid, earning Fife Council much-needed money.

However, this can’t happen if the waste is contaminated.

Council officers have been finding everything from plastics and glass to engine parts in the brown bin waste.

Councillor John Wincott, Fife Council’s sustainability champion, said: “This is a major problem for the Council because the brown bin waste is used in the AD plant.

“This plant takes the garden and food waste and turns it into gas to generate electricity, and compost for sale.

“Unfortunately, compost that is contaminated with broken glass, plastic and metal is no use at all.”

He continued: “Because of this contamination, we are now having to take operators off other tasks and ask them to hand pick the contaminants out of the waste before it is delivered to the plant.

“Of course, this is difficult job and it is costing the Council money that would be totally unnecessary if people only put the correct materials in their brown bins.”

Cllr Wincott urged resident to ensure they used the correct bins for their waste – blue for general waste for landfill, grey for paper and cardboard, green for plastics and cans, and brown for garden and food waste.

He added: “It is important all of the different bins are used for the types of materials they are supposed to be used for. But the brown bins are especially critical.

“It is vital that the feedstock into the AD plant is uncontaminated or the impact could be significant, so please use the brown bin only for garden and food waste.”