No Time to Waste – Collaboration Needed

Council, local businesses and community groups got together on Friday 8th November 2013 in Dunbar Townhouse to discuss potential projects to reduce waste going to landfill and to increase recycling.

Representatives agreed that much work is needed and a new partnership approach. They also heard that businesses will need to segregate their waste for recycling from January 2014, with new arrangements for collections in schools too and that householders can expect food waste collections in the new year.

The group wondered whether local supermarkets and larger businesses, who are very close to achieving zero waste to landfill, could do more to help consumers, who need to do more. Everyone agreed that additional infrastructure is still necessary to make it easier to recycle, to repair, and to re-use. Further education at the household level, in the workplace and at school is also needed. Participants listened to new evidence that we are all recycling less than we think we are and wasting a lot more with unnecessary purchases. So what can be done?

The groups split up to look at a number of possibilities for reduction, reuse and recycling and marketing. There were lively exchanges on using seaweed – a local problem – and food waste, composting at different scales – from commercial anaerobic digestion to community based vermiculture.

Others considered the need to work with local supermarkets to reduce packaging, consider waste take back or a deposit return scheme and, to work with the council to improve facilities for recycling on the go and in schools – as litter collection manpower is constrained. Another proposal is that waste is intercepted before it arrives at the local recycling centre and is made available for repair and re-use or remaking – following the fashion for “upcycling”. Such sheds already exist in other authority areas, so why not here?

More ambitious projects that reuse the waste heat from industry, reduce wasted energy from street lighting, use waste plastic films that fill our bins but less easily recycled, were also mooted.

Looking ahead, there will be declining resources available from the public sector, so there’s a need to work with larger businesses on the one hand, and help local businesses and set up new enterprises on the other to find new uses for things we currently discard, to start to put in place a more localised and circular economy.

The Zero Waste Dunbar project is looking at becoming one of Scotland's first Zero Waste Towns. What do you think this will entail?