Edinburgh Council waste tags aren’t recyclable

Recycling in the city centre has just become more complicated, as tags to mark reusable waste turn out to be non-recyclable themselves.

The tags which are attached to recycling bins to signify they contain non reusable goods, among designated waste, are made of Polypropylene. Polypropylene being the second most common synthetic material in society, just behind polyethylene. It’s mainly used for its robust and durable nature in items such as labels and reusable containers. It’s widely accepted as a recyclable plastic, but treatment in the production of the tags makes it unsuitable.

A council spokesperson stated that the tags had to be made from Polypropylene in order to be weatherproof. The same source then claimed that over 200,000 tonnes of waste are processed per annum, 90,000 of which are recycled. A percentage they feel justifies the use of a non-recyclable material. However should even one item, or a tag, end up in the wrong refuse point, it’s likely that the contents will be sent to a landfill.

These tags are especially controversial given the move made by the Scottish government to match EU legislation to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030. Their plan to tackle plastic pollution based upon reducing the amount of plastic straws, cups, cutlery and takeaway containers in common use. A bill to ensure all plastic bottles in rotation are recyclable is also expected to go before the Scottish Government soon as part of this.

The issue of single use plastics is to be raised in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. With focus upon “increasing recognition of the cumulative damage that plastics are doing to the environment and economy, not just domestically but also globally.” An initiative which the Edinburgh based charity Friends of the Earth are keen to support, having ran several campaigns to counteract plastic usage in society. Stating that “The average plastic bag used for just 12 minutes, won’t disappear for up to 1,000 years”.


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