Alternate Weekly Collection

This consultation closed on 15 August 2011

OIC has to make £4 million in savings this year. To help save costs, the Council has agreed in principle to introduce a new alternate weekly waste collection, with black bag rubbish picked up one week and items for recycling the next.

The Council is currently consulting with the Orkney public on how this service might operate.  In order to keep you informed and help you to respond to the consultation we have drawn up the following list of FAQs.

For further information contact the Waste Team, Development and Environment Services, Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY.

Please also view the leaflet and launch press release, available from the 'Related Downloads' section on the left.

You can pick up a survey from OIC customer services, libraries, GP and dental surgeries, and Post Offices - or download it from the 'Related Downloads' section on this page.

1. What exactly is being proposed?

An alternate weekly collection (AWC) would involve black bag refuse being picked up one week and recyclable items such as glass, paper/ thin card, cans and plastic bottles the next.

2. Why is the Council changing from the current weekly service?

The Council is aiming to increase the level of recycling that takes place in Orkney and, at the same time, cut costs as part of the Council’s budget savings.  The proposal has also been prompted by the Scottish Government’s new Zero Waste plans, which will require local authorities to substantially increase recycling levels from 2013 onwards.

3. Do any other local authorities across Scotland run an alternate weekly collection?

Twenty-five out of the 32 in Scotland provide some kind of alternate weekly collection.  Of the 10 Scottish councils with the highest recycling rates, the top eight use alternate weekly collections.

4. Why are you consulting on this?  Have councillors not already made up their minds that there will be an alternate weekly collection?

The Council has agreed in principle to bring in the service but realises that it’s a big change and wants to consult as widely as possible to make sure the new service is designed in a way that will work for people wherever they live in Orkney. 

5. When does the consultation start/end?

The consultation starts on Thursday 30 June and runs to Monday 15 August.

6. How do I take part?

You can download a copy of the survey form at  You can also pick a copy up at Customer Services in Kirkwall and Stromness, from the libraries and from other locations across Orkney. In addition, members of the Waste Team will be along at the Dounby and County Shows (11 and 13 August respectively) to discuss AWC with the public so you can pop by then.

7. What happens to my consultation response?

The information provided by those who take part in the consultation will be collated and reported to councillors.

8. Has a trial been carried out?

A trial has been operating in Westray since December 2009.  In Westray, householders are provided with a wheelie bin for storage of black bag refuse.  They also get purple bags for plastic bottles, blue bags for cans, green bags for glass and clear bags for paper and thin card.  The black bags are picked up one week, the other bags the next.

During the first nine months, there was a 24-tonne increase in the weight of items sent for recycling from Westray.  At the same time, the amount of kerbside refuse collected in the island reduced by almost 21 tonnes, achieving 22% less rubbish.

It’s estimated that a further 800 tonnes of recyclable material could be gathered annually across Orkney if an alternate weekly collection was introduced.

9. How much money will you actually save by switching to an alternate weekly collection?

The overall saving would be in the region of £140,000 over a three-year period.

10. Won’t there be additional costs to the Council in setting up the new arrangements?

Yes – but this will depend on which systems are adopted. This could be seen as a spend-to-save initiative, because the initial investment will lead to longer term savings for the Council.

11. When would the new arrangements start?

The results of the consultation will go to Councillors in September and a decision will be made then.

12. If there is going to be more kerbside recycling will this have an effect on the opening times of the recycling centres?

Consultation has been ongoing with staff and their unions on this.  At the moment the recycling centres are working on winter opening hours.  Full details of the current opening hours are available on the Council website. 

13. What will happen to the extra recyclable items collected at the kerbside across the county?

Glass is used as an aggregate substitute – it’s currently used, for example, in replacement blocks for the Churchill Barriers. Other items are sorted, transported south and sold to companies that reprocess recyclable materials.

14. Are we getting Wheelie Bins?

The consultation survey is asking how residents would like their rubbish and recyclates to be contained when we switch to AWC.  Wheelie bins are an option, but no decision has yet been made as to whether they will be issued to households.

15. I live in a small flat and wouldn’t have room to store up my refuse.  Can you do anything to help?

We’re aware that one size will not fit all for this service, as everyone’s circumstances are different i.e. not everyone has sheds/garages etc in which to store their rubbish/recycling.  Through the consultation we’re looking at a number of options including coloured bags (as provided in Westray), boxes and bags and wheelie bins.   The outcome of the consultation will help us to decide what the best type of provision is, and, depending on people’s needs, whether a mix of solutions is needed.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS