Waste service needs to be fit for purpose and financially sustainable

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The discontinuation of the garden waste collection service was not a decision that was taken lightly. Full consideration was given to other options, including introducing chargeable collection services. The rationale behind the decision is that in the current financial climate it is necessary to consider and review all mandatory and non-mandatory services provided by the council in order to identify savings opportunities. The council needs to provide a waste service that is fit for purpose and both financially and environmentally sustainable in the longer term.

The removal of the garden waste collection service, a non-mandatory service, will save approximately £450,000 a year and create a more equal waste collection service across the Borders, as rural areas have never received a kerbside garden waste collection service. This will assist in achieving the £800,000 savings required by Waste Services by 2017/18 and contribute significantly to the £28million savings target the council has over this period.

Through the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, the Scottish Government has made it mandatory for local authorities to introduce food waste collections to households in urban areas by January 2016. In the Borders these collections will be introduced to Hawick, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peebles and Galashiels, including Tweedbank, and work is ongoing to plan the roll out of this new service over spring/summer 2015. These collections will be carried out on a weekly basis.

It is not an option to ignore the new regulations and to not introduce food waste collections to the towns stipulated. To say that the garden waste service savings will be lost due to the introduction of the new food waste collection service is not accurate. The fact is it is just not affordable to continue to deliver the same level of services going forward and introduce new mandatory services required by the Scottish Government. It has been necessary therefore to prioritise services being delivered and mandatory services must obviously take a higher priority over non-mandatory services.

The council encourages composting at home or to take the material to community recycling centres. These are the best environmental options and will ensure that as much waste as possible is composted. Compost bins may be made available to householders free of charge. The Council’s composting partner, Ask Organic, is able to provide information on home composting, from the basics of how to get started, to dealing with trickier types of plants and weeds. They can also provide advice on ways to minimise garden waste.

COUNCILLOR DAVIE PATERSON

Executive member for
environmental services

n Letters extra, page 10