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Highland Council Area Recycling Rate Sees Massive Improvement

29th October 2007

Recycling rates in Highland continued to improve over the past year and a huge "thank you" is extended to everyone who has put the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message into action. Last year we increased our recycling rate to just over 26% which is fantastic! A massive improvement on where we were only four years ago when we were recycling only 3.5% of our waste!!

The downside to this good news, however, is that the amount of waste collected also grew by over 1.6% last year so we must all strive to make recycling and composting a normal part of our daily routine and try to minimise the amount of waste that we generate in the first place.

There are many helpful hints and tips on the Council's website to help all of us
* reduce the amount of waste that we produce in the first place
* make the best use of the recycling facilities that we now have in place;
* successfully compost at home;
* allow items that we do not need or want any more to be reused by someone who could use them rather than consign them to the bin and

Our kerbside collection service now extends to around 70,000 households and we have a network of 206 recycling points for paper, cans, glass (with some also having banks for textiles and shoes) and 21 Recycling Centres strategically placed throughout Highland. Details of the locations and materials that can be accepted at these facilities are available on the Council's website; from your nearest Service Point or by emailing recycle[AT]

Some Headline Facts and Figures

42,661 tonnes of waste were diverted from landfill last year for recycling and composting thus reducing the amount of waste that went to landfill to 121,080 tonnes (a further reduction of 6% from last year).

The 4,277 tonnes of glass that were collected in Highland in 2006-07 will be used in the manufacture of new glass products or in the production of energy saving glass fibre insulation.

Each Tonne of paper recycled in Highland saves enough energy to power a typical 3 bedroom house. In 2006-07 the 6,659 tonnes of paper collected for reprocessing saved enough energy to power over 6500 houses.

All steel food cans are 100% recyclable. They can be recycled over and over again and made into more cans, bikes and even cars, saving energy and raw materials. 130 tonnes of steel cans were diverted from landfill in Highland last year along with about 3 million aluminium cans (58 tonnes). The energy saved on reprocessing these aluminium cans rather than making new ones from raw materials saved enough energy to power 3000 TVs for over one year.

14,174 tonnes of green waste has been converted into compost which is used as a soil conditioner.

Over 10,600 home composting bins have been purchased by householders in Highland in the past year through the partnership that the Council has with WRAP. This provides a range of home composting bins at hugely subsidised rates and free delivery. The offer is still available and all bins come with a home composting guide, accessories leaflet and a free kitchen caddy. Visit or call 0845 0770756 to place your order.

We have produced our second Waste Data Digest covering every tonne of waste that has been collected, recycled, composted and disposed of in Highland during 2006/07. This should be available on the website by late November. Our Awareness Raising Team also produced an Educator's Pack which is aimed at anyone who is interested in education about waste and recycling and covers what happens to the waste that is produced in Highland. It has been distributed to all of our schools and can be downloaded from the website.

Our mascot, Compost the Cow is available to come along with the team to give talks to schools, community groups and to attend events such as Highland Shows/Games to help promote the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle message.

Working with Community Groups -

As part of the Strategic Waste Fund (SWF) award Highland Council works in partnership with seven local Community Groups who provided the following services on behalf of the Council:

* Furniture reuse projects
* White goods reuse/recycling
* Clothing, shoes and other textiles to overseas aid
* Opt in kerbside collection to 3000 households in East Sutherland
* Making animal bedding from shredded paper
* Community composting
* Bike/lawnmower refurbishing

In 2006/2007 the tonnage of material diverted from landfill by these Groups was 3,529 tonnes, the equivalent of a 2.2% portion of Highland's overall recycling rate. This is another significant increase in tonnage diversion from previous years, highlighting the community group contribution to recycling and reuse. A total of 799,000, made up of 591,000 SWF and 208,000 Landfill Diversion funds were paid to our partners through the Strategic Waste Fund.

Community Group Tonnage Diverted
Bettyhill Environmental Action Group (BEAG)------------------------------------25
Blythswood, Evanton-------------------------------------------------------------------1,307
Golspie Recycling Environmental Action Network (GREAN)--------------580
HomeAid, Caithness---------------------------------------------------------------------175
ILM (Highland), Alness-------------------------------------------------------------------971
Lochaber Environmental Group---------------------------------------------------------22
New Start, Inverness----------------------------------------------------------------------475
SECTOR TOTAL-------------------------------------------------------------------------3,555

Waste Disposal
The landfill site in Portree closed at the end of March this year with the result that there are only two Council operated landfill sites operating in Highland. One is at Seater in Caithness and is use for the disposal of waste from Caithness and Sutherland and the other site serves Badenoch and Strathspey and is located at Granish in Aviemore. Both of these sites are the subject of Pollution Prevention Control Permits which are enforced by SEPA and which set tighter environmental and operational controls on the operation of the sites.

The Council uses a private landfill site in Lochaber for the disposal of the waste from that area and the waste from the Inner Moray Firth is transferred to a landfill site at Peterhead.

A waste transfer station has been constructed at Portree where the waste from Skye is bulked up and transported to the central belt for final disposal / treatment. Work is ongoing to find a more sustainable local solution for dealing with this waste including the possibility of having a small waste to heat plant to treat the residual waste and provide district heating.

The key drivers for waste management are the National Waste Plan (through the Highland Area Waste Plan) and the Landfill Directive (through the Landfill Allowance Scheme). All Councils in the UK have been given strict targets for reducing the amount of biodegradable waste that they are allowed to dispose of to landfill. Failure to achieve these targets may result in the Councils facing fines or requiring to purchase permits from those Councils who have met their targets. Highland Council is currently working in partnership with Moray Council looking at alternative disposal infrastructure for dealing with our residual waste to try and meet our diversion targets. This will require significant additional resources.

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