Environmental waste scheme now in effect across all of Glasgow

9 March 2019

The project means businesses are now responsible for storing their own waste

An environmental scheme which aims to reduce clutter on the streets of Glasgow has now been implemented across the entire city.

The Commercial Waste Scheme means all businesses in the city are now responsible for storing trade waste on their own premises, except during designated collection periods.

During the arranged collection periods, waste can only be left outside for up to one hour. Businesses who do not comply could face fines of up to £1000.

Glasgow City Council Public Relations Officer Paul Kane said: “The Commercial Waste Scheme has its origins in a consultation which found that city centre residents, businesses and visitors saw the bulky commercial waste bins then found in the area as being unsightly and problematic for people with mobility issues.

“A pilot project reduced the number of these bins in the area from 2000 to zero, and its success led to the roll-out of the scheme across the city, with compliance in all of Glasgow from 2 March.

“Given the huge number of businesses who produce commercial waste, very few have objected.

“The council and partner bodies such as Zero Waste Scotland have provided workshops, support and advice to businesses to show that adapting practices can not only bring environmental benefits but can deliver financial savings.

He added: “Glasgow is greener, cleaner and safer as a result of this scheme.”

Similar initiatives have been introduced in other major UK cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh.

Prior to piloting the scheme, Glasgow City Council did several case studies with bars and other businesses that were going to be affected by the new rules.

But some people have raised concerns about the project.

Quinnan Lee, the owner of Thairiffic Restaurant on Sauchiehall Street, said: “The scheme has achieved success insofar as the city does indeed look much cleaner now. This is bearing in mind that it addresses a problem created by Glasgow City Council in the first place through implementing its recycling scheme a few years ago, which increased the commercial waste containers four fold.

“However, there are ramifications insofar as there exists collateral damage as a result of these changes. The planning department has failed to identify problems affecting specific groups and thus made no provision for them.

“In my case, I operate on the first floor of my premises. I do not have the the additional space to store bins. From a food hygiene and infestation perspective, I do not find it appropriate to attempt this in a food establishment. From a healthy and safety perspective, it is physically unsafe for my staff members to travel up and down stairs with heavily laden bins.

“From a fire risk perspective, we are now leaving combustible materials internally. In a few other places the fire escape is being used to store their bins. Another business I know is having to sacrifice space that would otherwise be generating revenue.

He added: “The picture is clear that complying with these rules comes at a heavy cost. Namely the financial cost, opportunity cost and the potential costs where other regulatory compliance requirements are breached.”

Environmental Protection Scotland’s Policy and Communications Officer John Byworth said: “Glasgow city centre already looks far better than it did before the rules began to change 12 months ago. Then, bin bags that had been left overnight were a common sight and health hazards went with that.

“There’s obviously additional costs for these companies to employ contractors to uplift waste, but the owners of shops, restaurants and other premises need to appreciate that more customers and clients will be attracted into Glasgow if the city’s streets are environmentally attractive.

He added: “There are always going to be teething problems when any new initiative is launched and we would encourage contractors uplifting waste for businesses, shops and restaurants to work closely with them and adhere as far as possible to the designated pick-up times.”

It has also been argued that the scheme is particularly beneficial to people who are blind or partially sighted, many of whom struggle to navigate cluttered streets even when accompanied by guide dogs.

Guide Dogs Scotland Communication Officer Emma Brown said: “Guide dogs offer people who are blind or partially sighted independence, however street clutter can make getting from A to B much harder.

“Obstructions such as advertising boards, bins and cars parked on the pavement can mean there is no space on the pavement for the guide dog and person to fit through safely.

She added: “The only other option is to go onto the road to get around the obstacle. For someone who cannot see the traffic, this can be a very frightening position to be in, just to get to work, the shops or meet a friend.”

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