Less than a quarter of Hawick’s households are using Scottish Borders Council’s food waste collections, it has been revealed.
The damning figure has been described as “disappointing” by Davie Paterson, SBC’s executive member for environmental services, and has led to questions over whether or not the service represents the best use of council resources.
A call has also been made for the food waste collections to be combined with the reintroduction of the green waste uplifts.
The food waste strategy – which was introduced as a result of Scottish Government regulations in a bid to increase recycling and cut the amount of waste going to landfill – was rolled out in Hawick in September, with brown bins and smaller brown caddies for indoor use distributed to 7,422 domestic properties.
At last Thursday’s council meeting at Newtown St Boswells, Councillor Stuart Marshall tabled an open question to Mr Paterson, asking him how many bins were used in Hawick on a weekly basis.
In response, Mr Paterson admitted that only 24 per cent of households in Hawick were taking part in the scheme. However, he insisted this figure was not representative of participation in the service, as some householders did not put their food waste bin out every week.
He continued: “The main measure of performance, recognised across Scotland, is the number of kilogrammes collected per household per week. The average uplift from households in Scotland is 0.97 kilos, across the Borders 0.91 kilos, and 0.73 kilos for Hawick.
“The performance of the service in Hawick is obviously disappointing and is clearly impacting on the overall performance of the service in the Scottish Borders.”
Councillor Marshall told the Hawick News on Tuesday: “To hear of the very small percentage of people actually using this service, one has to ask if it is an efficient way of using council resources.” Mr Marshall also said that refuse collectors often told him they saw food waste bins being thrown out with the domestic waste collections.
Councillor Watson McAteer added: “The option of combining food with garden waste collection was a realistic option that would have satisfied all those that I have spoken to and demonstrated real value for money.”
When we asked the council how it intended to improve participation in the scheme in Hawick, a spokesperson said: “We will continue to promote the use of the service through education and promotional activities.”
Regarding the possibility of combining the food waste with the garden collections, the spokesperson added: “The council did consider a combined service but to be eligible for part funding from the Scottish Government, the council was required to provide food waste collections separately and on a weekly basis.”