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Uniform recycling regulations seen as best way to achieve Scotland’s sustainability goals

Posted: 23rd September 2019

Viridor Recycling Index sheds light on Edinburgh residents’ attitudes towards circular economy

  • 90% of Edinburgh residents believe councils should work together nationally on uniform waste collection
  • Less than half (44%) believe enough recycling information is provided from councils and government
  • Less than half (48%) know what days to put their bins out
  • Only 14% of people think that all recyclable waste is actually recycled
  • 81% think different councils recycle different materials
  • Over half (51%) think easier systems will encourage consumers to recycle more

Not enough information is provided by local authorities on how and what to recycle, according to Viridor’s annual Recycling Index.

Surveying residents in Edinburgh, Viridor, the UK’s leading recycling and renewable energy company, found that, while there is a marked desire and appetite for improved recycling, not enough information is provided at a local authority or government level on what can and can’t be recycled – leaving consumers confused and frustrated.

Viridor’s fourth annual Recycling Index found that education must play a crucial role in addressing environmental issues, with 87% of Edinburgh residents believing this can help to prevent plastic ending up on beaches and in the sea. Residents told Viridor that they think that strict government rules on recycling would also help to make a difference (81%).

Currently, Scotland’s 32 local authorities have different rules on what can and can’t be recycled, with different coloured bins to deposit waste.

Only 44% of Edinburgh residents surveyed believe they are provided with enough information from local authority and government to know how and what to recycle. With 79% saying there is not enough educational material available on recycling.

Recent figures published by Zero Waste Scotland have also shown a slight decrease (0.9%) in domestic recycling rates in 2018 compared to the previous year – perhaps reinforcing the fact that confusion over recycling remains an issue.

When asked what would encourage them to recycle more, more than three-quarters of people in Edinburgh were clear that knowing what happens to their waste after it is recycled would help (76% of those surveyed) and that seeing how money saved from recycling was being spent on public services, like schools and roads, would improve uptake (80%).

Viridor is helping lead the charge for improved knowledge and awareness with its grassroots education programmes delivering crucial training and learning to the next generation. The company believes it is crucial to help people do the right thing, put the Right Stuff in the Right Bin and maximise all opportunities to recycle.

Earlier this year, students from Dunbar Grammar School and local artist Svetlana Kondakova, supported by Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Dunbar, transformed discarded plastics and other waste into a colourful mural which now adorns the walls of the visitor centre.

200 S1 pupils took part in litter picks to collect waste from in and around their school, promoting the benefits of recycling and responsible waste management to fellow pupils. The mural acts as a reminder to all that visit that we can all make a contribution to turn waste into a valuable resource, prevent littering and reduce the impact on marine and coastal wildlife.

Steven Don, Head of Local Authority Contracts Scotland, Viridor, said: “It’s clear from our annual Recycling Index that there is still a level of confusion and frustration around recycling but at Viridor we are committed to making this easier for consumers. We currently work in partnership with more than 90% of Scottish councils to improve awareness and streamline recycling services.

“Our youngsters are the future and are becoming incredibly engaged with the climate emergency. Activists like Greta Thunberg are helping to raise awareness of the need for change and we are hoping to inspire a new generation of young people through our education initiatives at our sites across Scotland. These education programmes, implemented at a grassroots level, are critical in order to cultivate a shared vision for the future.

“Highly emotive campaigns on the impact plastic waste is having on the environment are clearly having an impact. We want to harness this enthusiasm and play our part in ensuring changes are made so that all waste, not just plastic, is designed for recyclability and recycled by the public so we keep this out of the natural environment and back into our circular economy where it belongs.”

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