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EXPLAINED: 10 years on from food waste collections being added to Inverness's rubbish routine!

By Erin Miller

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Highland Council food waste lorry.
Highland Council food waste lorry.

Residents of Inverness may already be familiar and have made the free food waste caddy a part of their rubbish routine, but those who are new to the area may not be aware of the offering.

Green and blue bins are quite standard, but the small, grey bin might be unfamiliar or unknown to some – even in other parts of the Highlands.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the food waste caddies coming to Inverness. It is an initiative that has been widely adopted by people in the city and more broadly in Scotland.

Inverness is currently the only area in the Highlands where this has been implemented as those who are defined as ‘rural’ under the Scottish Government classification, are not currently required to separate their food waste for collection.

Highland Council offers free food waste caddies for Inverness city households.

Food waste is collected weekly from properties in Inverness city, Culloden, Smithton, Balloch and Milton of Leys.

A kitchen caddy.
A kitchen caddy.

Each home can have a 5-litre kitchen caddy and a 23-litre outdoor caddy, plus a free supply of compostable liners associated with the service.

A variety of food can be collected, this includes fruit and vegetables, bread, fish, meat (including bones), rice, pasta, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds.

Instead of going to landfill, food waste which is put in the caddies will be recycled and processed into a nutrient rich agricultural fertiliser.

This is one aspect of the Scottish Government’s Making Things Last strategy, which announced an ambitious new target to reduce per capita food waste in Scotland by 33 per cent (from 2013 levels) by 2025.

This Scottish target was the first of its kind in Europe recognising the critical role of food waste reduction in the fight against climate change.

By recycling food waste there is a reduction in the amount of biodegradable waste.

This is not only beneficial to the climate, reducing output of powerful greenhouse gas methane, but also saves money on landfill tax.

Local business, Velocity Café & Bicycle Workshop works in partnership with the Highland Council to help encourage households to use the food waste recycling in Inverness and in addition, it holds regular food composting events.

An outdoor caddy and supply of liners.
An outdoor caddy and supply of liners.

Councillor Ian Brown, the local authority's Inverness city leader who was in the same role back when the food waste caddies were first implemented in 2013, hailed the success of the initiative in Inverness.

“I was the leader when they were first implemented, the first-ever ones and I suppose the concern initially was that they were so light that they might blow away," he said. “But I think now they are well used and I think it has obviously been a really good recycling scheme.

“To me, it was a really good initiative to do, and it has been very successful. Where I stay in Drakies, there are a lot of the grey bins out, most people do use them and I think it is good because we know well the damage that food waste does to landfill.

“It is something that isn’t really talked about or discussed that much now. But I do know that today is my bin day and there are lots of grey bins out. So my neighbours are certainly still consistently using them and I know it has been very successful because it is a free service that has been well used."

When asked if this could be something that was implemented more widely across the Highlands, as this is something currently only in “non-rural” areas, Cllr Brown commented: “Possibly it will be, but obviously it is the issue that in the remote areas it is more difficult to implement and the logistics are harder.”

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