Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plastics recycling - good news

I have long supported encouraging plastics recycling as part of the city's overall recycling efforts. A constituent in the West End recently complained that certain plastics that were previously uplifted via the green box recycling service service were no longer being collected - such as plastics with the recycling symbol 6 (such as salad trays and yoghurt pots) - and I raised this with the City Council. I reproduce the positive feedback from the council below :

"We recently became aware that our green box sorting crews have with good intentions for some time been uplifting items from green boxes that had not been contractually agreed with our plastics reprocessor. In response to this, approximately 6 weeks ago we called our green box collection crews in for additional training who were instructed to revert to uplifting only those items as stated on the reverse of the collection calendar. Our reprocessors will only accept a small percentage of contamination from us, and we have an obligation to adhere to this. For approximately 1 month thereafter our green box sorting crews began leaving non types 1 and 2 plastics behind in boxes. Our crews make an effort to leave in such boxes cards stating the cause of the contamination.

There are 7 plastic types in total, and as these have different melting points they cannot be recycled together, therefore require additional sorting post collection. Most local authorities in Scotland can only accept types 1 and 2 plastics as these have typically been the most commonly disposed of plastics, and are the easiest to find markets for.

Although the contract we have with our plastics reprocessor is not yet up for renewal, our department called a meeting with them a fortnight ago to request that they take more in the way of plastics from us. Following extensive negotiations our reprocessor has agreed to this, with the exception of such plastics as black sacks, packaging films, PVC plastic, and polystyrene. This does though now mean that we can formally accept such plastics as yoghurt pots, butter tubs, plant pots, meat trays and microwaveable meal trays. Our green box sorting crews were informed to put this into action a little over a week.

We will shortly be writing out to all residents on green box routes to inform them of this recent and positive change. We have held off on writing out to residents until we could be certain that the new situation was set in stone.

In Dundee we are unique in that the waste that has not been recycled does not go to landfill. Instead, the non-recycled waste is sent to DERL an energy from waste plant at Baldovie. Dundee City Council's Waste Management department are though committed to expanding our recycling service as far as funding permits. At present we are on track to meet the Scottish Government's 40% recycling target by the end of this calendar year, and are considerably further ahead of all other Scottish city local authorities in this important area.

I hope this helps to answer your constituent's enquiry, and once again we apologise for the confusion caused by this. We feel though that despite the recent upset to the service the end result has been a very positive outcome for the amount of plastics we are now able to capture in green boxes and at recycling centres and points."