A new dawn in refuse collection is about to start in the streets of Lerwick and Scalloway with wheelie bins being delivered to premises that have agreed to test them.
A two-week trial will see around 30 domestic and commercial premises use the different-sized wheelie bins.
Households in the pilot site of Lerwick’s Goodlad Crescent had their bins delivered on Wednesday. Larger bins will be delivered to commercial premises in Commercial Street and Main Street, Scalloway, on Monday.
At the same time a purpose-built bin-lifting vehicle has been arranged to start daily collections from commercial premises on Tuesday and weekly collections from households on Wednesdays for the next two weeks.
Head of environment and building services Stephen Cooper said that the purpose of the move was to familiarise people with the wheelie bin concept and to assess its suitability for Shetland.
As well as being a new way of working for users, who have reacted very positively, he said, it would be new to the council essy kert staff, who are apparently enthusiastic about the idea.
Goodlad Crescent was chosen as the domestic test site as it represents the typical urban environment – in the town centre, with high density housing and with parked cars providing a challenge to users. It was also judged to be reasonably sheltered, important for the purposes of the test.
Thirteen householders here have agreed to participate. One of those involved said: “I think it will be okay, it seems to be no problem especially as we are on the flat. It will be no heavier than using bags and you don’t have to lift it.”
If the scheme proves successful, it will go live for commercial premises in Lerwick and Scalloway in October. A domestic scheme would follow later, hopefully by December.
Mr Cooper stressed that it would be an opt-in scheme, with wheelie bins only going to households and commercial premises that want them. There will be an incentive scheme for commercial premises to take part. Householders that want to have wheelie bins will have to buy them at a cost of £25.
Mr Cooper said there were various advantages to having wheelie bins. Commercial premises, which would have large 1,280 litres size bins, could have their rubbish collected in one lift rather than in three or four smaller bins. This would be a cheaper option and there will be a financial incentive to use the new bins.
For all users, Mr Cooper said wheelie bins provide a “ready-made receptacle” which would be neater and more contained than bags, which are prone to attack by gulls and cats.
He said: “I can certainly see the benefit of wheelie bins for reducing the potential for scattering of rubbish, and the benefit for operators – they are very keen on them.”
Eventually, over the next four years, wheelie bins could be a familiar sight throughout Shetland if feedback from the trial is positive. Mr Cooper envisages a 30 per cent take-up for domestic properties, but stressed that no-one will be forced to give a home to a 240-litre wheelie bin.
People who prefer black bags can continue to use them, and they can be collected by the same essy kert as that used for the wheelie bins.
Some areas are in any case unsuited to wheelie bins – Lerwick’s lanes are a typical example – as the householder has responsibility of putting their bin on the pavement at the appropriate time and taking it back into the boundary of the house after collection.
Similarly, exposed, steep and windy sites, those with steps and those a long way from a collection point will probably not be suitable. Leaflets will be provided to explain the use of wheelie bins to householders.
Mr Cooper said that although the concept of the bins had initially met with resistance on the mainland, they were now generally accepted.