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Fife Awarded Government Funding to Improve Plastics Recycling

Fife Council has received £470,000 worth of funding in order to improve recycling capabilities in the area. The funding was provided by the Scottish Government’s Recycling Improvement Fund, and Fife will be the first council in Scotland to implement this change in recycling procedures, putting it on the cutting edge of the growing eco-consciousness movement and keeping Fife on track with the Scottish government’s goal of net-zero. The Scottish Government’s Recycling Improvement Fund was set up in March 2021 and was awarded £70 million of funding to help improve recycling across Scotland. The fund is managed by Zero Waste Scotland, who so far have awarded 16 projects funding for a total investment of £20 million. Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh are just some of the places where funding has been allocated to improve recycling and recycling capabilities so far. The fund is meant to last five years. Zero Waste Scotland is a non-profit organization focused on the environment. It is funded by both the Scottish government and the European Regional Development Fund. Their website states that the implementation of projects funded by the Recycling Improve- ment Fund have saved “21,400 tonnes CO2e, the equivalent of taking 11,400 cars off the road.” Zero Waste Scotland’s Chief Executive, Iain Gullen, said, “Zero Waste Scotland is proud to be working with the Scottish Government and local authorities to deliver one of the county's most exciting and ambitious recycling, reuse and waste prevention programmes in our history, which will improve services and infrastructure for people across the country. I’m really looking forward to applications from local authorities for ideas to develop their infrastructure. “This fund will be transformational in helping our communities embrace a circular economy, where materials and products are kept in use for as long as possible, and where new economic opportunities and social benefits flourish.” The funding provided to Fife will be used to purchase a Tomra Optical Sorter. The Tomra Optical Sorter is designed to separate plastic film from other plastics and cans, diverting it away from landfills and into new products designed to incorporate recycled plastics. Plastic film is soft polyethylene packaging material used commonly in plastic grocery and sandwich bags. It also is a common packaging for single-use products like paperplates and packs of water bottles. Any plastics less than ten mil thick are considered to be classified as plastic film. Plastic film can be recycled as long as they are clean. This type of plastic currently makes up about 20% of all recycling collected, and its diversion away from landfills in Fife will have a great economic impact by reducing the costs of landfill tax. This will create a cost avoidance of over £100,000 per year. Councilor Ross Vettraino Convener of the Environment and Protective services committee said, “The Council is very pleased to have been awarded this funding, which will ensure that Fife residents will have more opportunity than ever to recycle their waste. Fife will be the first Council in Scotland with the ability to accept flexible plastics (plastic film) at the kerbside for recycling.

Expanding on the new plastic recycling initiative the Convener said, "Currently, plastic film is a contaminant, as it cannot be recycled, and must be removed and sent to landfill thereby incurring additional cost by way of separation, haulage, disposal and landfill tax. From March next year, however, plastic film can be deposited in the green bins and will be collected at the kerbside and reprocessed at the Council’s recycling facility in Dunfermline. Not only will this be a financial saving and a huge boost to recycling in Fife, it will be another positive step towards a circular economy.”

Illustration: Sarah Knight

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