Food waste collection service review shows poor uptake in Glasgow

A new food waste collection service in Glasgow, UK, is being revised due to poor uptake.

Glasgow City Council introduced food waste collection in flats and tenements in north-west Glasgow in February, but there were concerns over the effectiveness of the service. Recent figures show that around 2,000 tonnes of food waste are collected from flatted properties in the city and sent for reprocessing each year. When the service was launched in 2016, around 50,000 tonnes of food waste was sent to landfill annually.

During the recent service review, it was found 30% of grey bins for food waste were frequently contaminated with other waste, such as residual waste, preventing proper processing. In these instances, a separate collection for the bin had to be arranged, leading to delays in the waste being removed and complaints from residents.

The council said a contaminated food waste bin also has to be processed as general waste, incurring a “significant additional cost” for the council, and preventing taxpayers from receiving the best value for money.

Under the proposed test arrangement, around 4,500 food waste bins will be retained at addresses with a good record of recycling. However, due to repeated incidents of contamination, 2,500 bins have been removed. Instead, those residents who wish to recycle their food waste will be able to access an enhanced network of public food waste bins at 200 sites across the north-west of the city.

“There has been a disappointing uptake of the food waste service for flatted properties since its introduction in 2016,” said a council spokesman. “Very low levels of food waste are eventually recycled and bins are frequently spoiled with other kinds of waste, which then makes it significantly more expensive to process.

“Resolving issues with contaminated food bins takes up significant time and resources and impacts upon the effectiveness of the wider cleansing service.

“By providing publicly-sited bins for addresses where there have been significant ongoing problems, we are aiming to minimise the issue of contamination and ensure as much food waste can be reprocessed as possible.”

Improved recycling rates will be good for the environment and good value for the taxpayer, said the spokesman. The trial is expected to last for eight weeks and results from the test period will help to shape the delivery of the service across Glasgow in the future.

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