An organic recycling expert has hit out at council plans to introduce food waste recycling at the expense of its garden waste collection service.
Mike Orr, who also farms just outside Selkirk, made the comments ahead of a meeting of the full council yesterday, Thursday, when members debated the proposal.
The council believes it can save £450,000 a year by scrapping the kerbside garden waste collections in the towns where it currently operates.
A kerbside food waste collection service will also be introduced in January 2016, which is mandatory, but again will only operate in certain Border towns.
Mr Orr, the chairman of the Association for Organic Recycling and a freelance consultant to the industry, believes the move will lead to a significant fall in recycling levels, fines for the council for missing targets, and a rise in landfill costs.
Mr Orr said residents will simply go back to putting garden waste into general rubbish bins, which goes to landfill at a cost of more than £70 per tonne, compared to the current cost of recycling garden waste at around £20 per tonne.
“It is absolutely right that the council should be collecting and recycling food waste separately, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of another form of recycling,” Mr Orr said.
He argued that the council is over-estimating the number of residents who will take their garden waste to community recycling centres once the kerbside service is removed in March.
Mr Orr also claimed the proposals had been ‘rushed’ and that the report presented to councillors at the meeting was ‘one-sided’.
He added: “I can understand the argument the council makes about not extending the garden waste collection to rural communities, because it would be too expensive to implement.
“There is common sense reasoning for that, but there is not for scrapping the service altogether.
“The whole drive of governments is to increase recycling levels, so a lot of local authorities have introduced garden waste collection and recycling because it is a very easy method to be introduced and achieves good levels of recycling.
“But progress is not stopping something that is working well and starting something else.”
The council report stated the Integrated Waste Management Strategy would assist in delivering a waste service that is fit for purpose and both financially and environmentally sustainable in the long term.
Councillors were discussing the proposals as the Wee Paper went to press.