Income drops as recycling levels rise in Fife

Fife's bin lorries have been collecting more waste for recycling than ever before.
Fife's bin lorries have been collecting more waste for recycling than ever before.

Fife Council is collecting more household waste for recycling than ever before – but its income from selling recyclates has been going down.

And as local authorities across the country continue to recycle more of their waste, the prices which are being paid for recyclates are likely to be pushed down further.

Fife Council is around £600,000 down on what it expected to make from selling recyclates.

However, recycling is still the better option in terms of the environment – and cheaper than sending waste for landfill.

The issue was raised by St Andrews councillor Dorothea Morrison at a recent meeting of the executive committee during a debate on the Council’s financial position.

She said: “I notice the tonnage has increased but the price has fallen.

“Is the price going to continue to fall as more recyclates become available?”

Keith O’Donnell, head of financial services, suggested this was likely to be the case, adding: “The drop in the price paid for recyclates may well be a supply and demand issue.”

As a result of the roll-out of the four-bin system, a larger amount of cans and plastics has been recovered this year, and this trend is expected to continue with the final phase of the roll-out.

Brian Livingston, executive director of finance, reported: “While this ensures Fife Council complies with its statutory obligation to collect cans and plastics, instead of this producing an income stream for the Council, there is a net cost as the income received is less than the cost of storing the cans and plastics for collection.”

The price received for recyclates is also determined by its quality.

In recent weeks, Councillor Pat Callaghan, executive spokesman for environment, has had to issue a plea to households to take more care when recycling their waste, as there has been a problem with people putting rubbish in the wrong bins, leading to contamination.

The latest figures produced by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) show that Fife is one of the top local authorities in Scotland when it comes to recycling.

In 2013, 55.9 per cent of household waste in Fife was recycled – a figure bettered only by Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire.

Fifers are also producing less waste overall, with the total tonnage collected in 2013 down to 190,784 from 195,595 in 2012.