Creative thinking reaps recycling reward

Low-cost bin swap doubles Fife recycling rate.

21 Jun 11

A bin swap scheme that has seen Fife Council’s recycling rates soar to 65 per cent was today praised by Richard Lochhead.

Over 36,000 households in Glenrothes and East Fife have swapped recycling bins with larger mixed waste bins in a move labelled ‘hugely successful’ by the local authority.

Fife Council’s approach was praised by Mr Lochhead as an ‘excellent example of creative, cost effective thinking’ allowing small changes by homeowners to have huge impact. Further roll-out to an additional 124,000 households across the region is planned by 2014.

Resident Brenda Henderson told Mr Lochhead that the changes made to kerbside recycling collections were “an easy transition” for her family.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Exceptional recycling rates are being achieved in Fife thanks to a simple swap in the size of the bin used to collect waste for landfill. It’s great to see such a simple, low-cost change really paying off – and, of course, being embraced by households.

“Fife Council continue to take ambitious steps to move towards our zero waste goals. Thanks to the way they have engaged positively with local residents, there is strong support for the changes they are making.

“Meeting Mrs Henderson today, I’m encouraged by how easy she found the change-over in bin sizes, and her positivity towards it. Fife’s residents have good cause to be proud of the increased recycling rates for their local area; their individual efforts really matter and play a vital role in our bid to move Scotland towards a zero waste society.”

Mrs Henderson said:

"There’s no doubt that the introduction of the four bin service that included a change in the size of the landfill bin made us sit up and take recycling more seriously. Before I would not have recycled my cans, plastics and food waste, but it’s easy now that we can simply separate them at home and have them recycled at the kerbside. There’s really no excuse not to.

“Living with my husband in a two-person household, we don’t produce too much waste between us. However, looking after three grandchildren regularly after school every day certainly sees more rubbish pile up. At first I wondered if the bins would cope with the amount of waste we have, but we’ve really had no trouble at all. The variety of materials the recycling bins can take allows us to minimise the amount going to landfill, and the kids are great at keeping us on track having learnt all about it at school.”

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Fife Council is leading the way in efforts to encourage people to recycle more.  Changing the way we manage waste is essential if we are to achieve our vision for zero waste.  Fife’s bin swap is a great example of a simple change delivering big results and every household involved should be rightly proud.

“Zero Waste Scotland has developed Scotland’s first Recycle Week to inspire people to recycle a little bit more.  We are calling on people across Scotland to make an effort to recycle something extra whether at home, at work, or when they’re out and about.”

Councillor Ross Vettraino of Fife Council said:

"The new service has been a great success. Once it has been rolled out 150,000 houses in Fife we expect to be recycling 60% of household waste. The food waste that we will collect will help us to produce enough electricity to power 1500 homes from the renewable power plant that we are building. This will turn 40,000 tonnes of food and garden waste into power and heat instead of dumping it in landfill."


65% is the recycling rate for those households in Fife already participating in the four bin service, which includes the bin swap of a recycling bin with a larger mixed waste bin.  When the new service has been introduced to the whole of Fife, the projected recycling rate for the region is 60%.

This week also marks Scotland’s first Recycle Week, a Zero Waste Scotland initiative which aims to encourage people to recycle a little more running from Monday 20 to Sunday 26 June.

The seven-day campaign is themed ‘Home and Away’ to emphasise the increasing number of opportunities to recycle in everyday life, including in the work place and when you’re ‘on-the-go’ in addition to those in the household.

Zero Waste Scotland’s top seven recyclable items for Recycle Week include:

  • Electric Toasters – or similar small electrical items such as kettles or hair dryers
  • Household Batteries
  • Mobile phones
  • Towels or bed linen – or other textiles
  • Old jeans – or other items of clothing
  • Shampoo of shower gel bottle
  • Aerosol cans

For image requests or more information, please contact

Nicola McGovern: 07540 516156 (Zero Waste Scotland Press and PR Manager)

Iona MacPherson: 0131 244 5193 / 07917 588 521 (Scottish Government Communications)

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