Radical recycling rules are set to spark a mini-boom in rubbish bins.
Homes across the Stewartry will be the first to have to find space for no less than six “receptacles” as a new, multi-million pound collection system swings into action over the next couple of years.
Apart from the familiar wheelie bin, houses will end up with two caddies for weekly food waste collections, one 23-litre, the other five; a 55-litre box for metals, plastic bottles and glass; a 44-litre one for paper and card; and a 44-litre spare one.
Thirty-nine jobs will be created in the process.
The return of the blue box-style kerbside collections has been forced on the council by a change in Scottish Government strategy which puts a much heavier emphasis on recycling. But council bosses insist the Eco Deco plant at Dumfries, which cost £30 million just five years ago, will be largely unaffected. New technology means it can be enhanced to produce recycled waste.
Eco Deco was backed by the then Labour-run Scottish Executive, which handed over a £79 million grant to the council in 2004 when the emphasis was simply on moving away from landfill.
Labour councillors claim the new exercise will cost £24 million and could leave taxpayers facing a £442,000 a year bill for running costs.
The money will be needed to invest in recycling sites at Dumfries and Stranraer, as well as extending transfer centres at Castle Douglas and Annan.
Another £4 million will have to be found for new vehicles and bins, although the council will only have to pay £800,000, the rest being paid by the Scottish Government. The council, however, insists the recycling exercise is self-funding and the £442,000 should be covered by income.
Ian Carruthers, who chairs the planning, housing and environment committee, said: “This is the most fundamental change to waste management in a generation and goes further than any previous legislation.
“Our previous policy was to focus on landfill diversion and we now divert 58 per cent of all waste collected and are the sixth lowest landfill authority in Scotland.
“It is estimated that kerbside recycling, combined with the new technology proposed for the Zero Waste Parks in Dumfries and Stranraer, will save the council £1.086 million a year in landfill tax and increase recycling from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, so we are on track.”
However, Labour’s Colin Smyth said: “The council really won’t have any credibility when they try to convince people that recycling is the way forward, having spent the last five years telling them it was the wrong thing to do because we have the Eco Deco plant.
“People will rightly ask why the council got it so badly wrong and why they are being allowed to get away with it. Unless Tory and SNP councillors are willing to apologise for the mistakes they made when they opposed recycling in the past, including voting to scrap the blue box scheme, it will be the height of hypocrisy when coalition councillors try to tell everyone about the benefits of this new system.”
Recycling boxes will go out for collection on alternate weeks. Caddies will come with sealable bags to take left-over food. Householders will be able to use their existing bin for all other waste, which will be collected on alternate weeks.
The system will start in the Stewartry and Wigtown in 2014.