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Council clarifies issues over re-opening of Household Recycling Centres

By David Porter

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Following the announcement that Aberdeenshire Council is reopening the majority of its Household Recycling Centres for some materials, staff received many questions on the reasons behind the temporary arrangements.

Turriff HWRC is one of 12 sites to open next week under strict guidelines.
Turriff HWRC is one of 12 sites to open next week under strict guidelines.

A spokesman for the council said: "First and foremost, it is important to stress that this is about a phased return to full services, with this initial phase focusing on allowing as many people as possible to get rid of their excess waste under a managed approach.

"All of our current restrictions will be kept under constant daily review and consideration will be given as to how quickly we can move to phase 2 and lift some of the conditions.

"Rest assured we will provide further information as soon as we are able to so.

Here are answers to some of the more common questions:

Why were Household Recycling Centres closed in the first place?

The HRCs were all closed to the public on March 24 following the Scottish Government’s implementation of the lockdown restrictions. A visit to a recycling centre was considered a non-essential journey and this is a consistent position across all Scottish local authorities. Due to the length of time the centres have been closed, a journey to a recycling centre to dispose of excess waste is now considered essential for health reasons.

Why can’t you just open all the HRCs and run them like before?

The recycling centres are being opened in a phased approach with some restrictions being placed on materials, number of visitors and opening hours to start with.

A booking system will be available for customers to book a slot online to attend their local recycling centre.

The system is being tested meantime and details will be provided early next week to enable you to make a booking.

We will also be providing details of how people who do not have a computer or access to the internet can make a telephone booking.

The reason for introducing this system is to control the number of visitors to a manageable number each day to ensure social distancing on the sites is observed and the volume of traffic off site does not cause traffic problems on the local access roads.

It will also ensure that customers have to queue for less time to access the site as only customers with bookings should be in the queue.

If customers turn up to the sites without a booking confirmation, then they will be turned away.

Why can’t all types of waste be deposited at the HRCs?

The materials accepted at the HRCs will be limited initially to bagged residual waste, bagged garden waste and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) including white goods and smaller electrical items.

There are a number of reasons for these restrictions.

The materials that residents are being allowed to bring have to be restricted in order to increase the volume of visitors that we can allow to access the site under these temporary changes.

The way we are setting the sites up will ensure that all customers are physically-distanced and have to stick to the skips that they have been allocated to.

Initially, we have to focus primarily on allowing residents to make their essential journey to the recycling centre to get rid of excess waste which has been building up at home and which they need to get rid of for health reasons.

That does not include, for example, cardboard, bulky furniture or other waste streams such as wood or rubble. If we increase the amount of materials, then we would have to decrease the number of slots available due to the size of the sites.

We will keep it under constant review and would hope to start relaxing the restrictions within a couple of weeks once the initial rush is over, but we are not fixing a timescale.

Why are you not opening all of the HRCs at the same time?

Only 12 out of the 15 Household Recycling Centres will be re-opened in the initial phase. Insch and Portsoy are considered to be too small to allow for sufficient social distancing measures to be put in place at the moment, but further consideration will be given to how to allow them to re-open in phase 2.

Alford Recycling Centre is currently closed as work on building a new site was due to start just before Covid 19 hit.

Unfortunately, this work has now been delayed and there is no timescale yet for completion.

Residents can book slots at Westhill, Banchory or Huntly.

Why is the HRC in Peterhead not reopening on June 1?

Peterhead will reopen on June 8 following the completion of essential repairs including replacement of the concrete track for the roll-pack machine and the fitting of additional gantries between the containers.

These works were scheduled for later in the year, but following the decision to begin reopening HRCs in June, it was felt prudent to begin the works now rather than have to close so soon after an initial reopening.

Why are only cars and pick-ups allowed?

Trailers and vans will not be allowed into the sites initially as they would take up the space allocated for two cars and therefore require two slots.

It is hoped that this restriction can be lifted in phase 2.

Will the seasonal garden points be reopened as well?

The intention is to re-open the 12 local garden waste collection points across Aberdeenshire which operate on Saturdays during the summer, as long as it is considered safe to do so, in order to reduce the demand on the HRCs.

It is also our intention to open up a new point in Alford for this summer due to the recycling centre being closed.

When will bulky uplift bookings recommence?

We acknowledge that some residents are enquiring about our bulky waste uplift service and we can advise that we are looking into its reintroduction in due course.

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