THE AMOUNT of rubbish sent to recycling from households in Glasgow dropped in the last year, amid a waste crisis caused by missed bin collections, new figures show.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Glasgow City Council has revealed the months affected by strikes and shortage of staff due to Covid-19 reported some of the lowest recycling rates in the past two years.

The council blamed the “exceptionally challenging” times for both its collection service and the processors who handle the city’s waste for the decline.

Zero Waste Scotland explained that there would be a direct connection between the missed collections and the drop in recycling waste.

Glasgow Times:

The annual average for the Glasgow City Council area dropped from 30% in 2020, to 27.5% in 2021, down 2.45%.

Glasgow’s refuse workers had gone on strike last November over a pay rise row with COSLA - an umbrella body responsible for Scottish councils - demanding a rise that reflected their efforts during Covid-19.

Data released by the council shows the recycling rate then was 23%, compared to 32.7% in the same month of the previous year.

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Due to the festive period and Covid-19 absences, the amount of waste recycled continued to drop in December, down to 21.1%, compared to 27.9% in 2020.

Reports of bins overflowing across the city continued in January this year, when rates went up slightly, reaching 23.8%, but were still lower than January 2021, with 29%.

Overall, the current household recycling rates are still far from the 70% by 2025 target set by the Scottish Government.

The most recent SEPA figures show that Glasgow was the worst Scottish local authority for waste recycled in 2020, with 29.6%, after Shetland (18.4%) and Orkney (23.4%).

Glasgow Times:

Adrian Bond, recycling manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Missed collections do impact adversely on recycling, as any bin with spare capacity is usually used when recycling bins are full. In this case, contamination is more likely to occur.

“This will make it more difficult for councils to capture the material in the bin that can be recycled, or even, in some cases, the whole bin being sent for disposal rather than recycling.

“This is costly both in financial and environmental terms.”

Zero Waste Scotland added it is administering a £70m Recycling Improvement Fund set to transform Scotland’s recycling infrastructure, with money being allocated to “innovative projects” across the country.

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A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “The past year was an exceptionally challenging time for both our own collection services and also many of the processors that ultimately handle the city’s waste.

“The covid pandemic and other operational issues have affected the efficiency of the overall system and that is being reflected in the figures we are seeing.

“Recycling is always processed by companies operating in a market place for material.

“Lower quality material, such as paper that has been contaminated by other waste, is currently being rejected by processors and ultimately has to be disposed of as general waste.

“As part of our Resources and Recycling Strategy, we are working to improve recycling services across the city and inform residents of the importance of recycling properly.”