Communal bin review

Changes to gull proof bag and recycling box collections

Gull proof bag and recycling box collections in some streets in the New Town are changing. This decision was made by the Transport and Environment committee on 22 April 2021.

The proposed new service will provide more capacity for recycling and group all waste collection bins together. This means

  • you will be able to dispose of your waste and recycling when you have it
  • you won’t have to store waste and recycling in your home between collection days
  • fewer overflowing bins as non-recyclable waste and mixed recycling bins will be collected every two days
  • we will be providing a more consistent service across the whole city which will improve street cleanliness and recycling levels.

Why the service is changing

The Council has ambitious targets to become carbon neutral 2030 and to meet these we need to ensure our recycling rates are enhanced. We want every resident in Edinburgh to have equal opportunities to recycle their waste. The red box does not provide adequate capacity to collect the range of materials which could be recycled.  

As the waste collection authority we have a statutory right to specify how waste is collected. The service is changing because

  • the current service does not provide enough capacity for recycling and this leads to litter issues
  • the use of gull proof bags is low, causing overflows of waste in nearby bins
  • we are improving the communal bin service across the city and this will include the World Heritage Site
  • there are safety and manual handling issues for both residents and collection crews.

The type of bins and service to be used throughout the city were reviewed in 2019/2020. A comparison between different systems of collection and types of bins was carried out, including underground bins and the recommendations were approved by Transport and Environment committee on 27 February 2020. 

Planning processes

We recognise the uniqueness of the World Heritage Site. We are working with Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland to help ensure waste and recycling services do not undermine the character of the area but also increase the amount of waste that we recycle. We are looking at mitigations such as changes to bin lid colours and corral structures to minimise the visual impact of the future bin hubs.

Planning permission is not required for each location. The Council has permitted development rights under planning law, but the bin hub locations within the World Heritage Site are subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening. This is a procedure used to determine whether the project is likely to have significant effects on the environment. This process includes the assessment of impacts on landscapes and sites of historical, cultural or archaeological significance. The response to the EIA screening can be viewed on the planning portal.

Community engagement

We have met with relevant community councils. We have also held public information sessions prior to the Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) being advertised, where residents were able to find out more about the communal bin review and provide feedback.

The changes will be supported by new bin stickers, leaflets and letters sent to residents, and other media when the bin hubs are being installed.

Most sites will need changes to parking, and will be subject to TROs. Residents currently serviced by gull proof sacks and recycling box services will receive a letter to update them of the project plans, with details of the engagement sessions and TRO process (when appropriate).

Residents will be able to review and comment on the proposed locations of the bin hubs as part of the TRO process when it starts.

Project update

December 2021