Aug 25, 2021

North Lanarkshire embraces 'weight' of sustainability

rfidtags
northlanarkshire
MichaelMcPake
IainGulland
John Pinching
3 min
North Lanarkshire embraces 'weight' of sustainability
North Lanarkshire in Scotland trials weighing of recycling as barometer for climate change awareness

A waste weighing programme being launched next month in North Lanarkshire will be the first in Scotland to use using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

The year-long pilot – being rolled out from early September – will include 5,000 households in North Lanarkshire with a focus on enhancing recycling rates within the local authority, located in Scotland’s central belt. 

The programme, funded by the Scottish circular economy agency Zero Waste Scotland and delivered in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council, involves the use of RFID tags. While these have been used in Europe and in some other parts of the UK, this region will be the first local authority in Scotland to embrace this RFID technology.

The tags will be installed within household waste – including food – and recycling collection bins, without any impact on local collection procedures or timescales. The process will capture individual bin weights to help understand levels of recycling participation against residual waste disposal.

This information will help identify areas for improvements and efficiencies to waste services; enhance planning for collection routes; and reduce vehicle travel times and emissions. It will also enable better staff and resource planning and identify other potential financial savings within the council’s Waste Solutions department.

The most recent figures published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2019 show North Lanarkshire residents recycled just over 40% of their household waste. The local authority is focused on raising that figure to 70% by 2025. Achieving this goal, along with efficiency savings and emissions reductions being targeted through the waste weighing programme, are key measures in supporting the Scottish Government’s ambition of ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 and achieving net zero by 2030.

North Lanarkshire Council’s Convener of Environment and Transportation Committee, Michael McPake, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this innovative pilot project with Zero Waste Scotland."

“It’s important that we can monitor existing levels of recycling so we can determine how to engage with local residents and make improvements to services. The use of RFID technology enables us to achieve this aim and will support our ambition of increasing household recycling activity across North Lanarkshire. We look forward to working closely with households involved in the initial trial which – if successful – has the potential of being rolled out across the wider local authority area, and to other parts of Scotland,” he added.

Iain Gulland, CEO, Zero Waste Scotland, enthused: “As the first local authority in Scotland to take part in this pilot programme, North Lanarkshire is leading the way in embracing technology to enhance its green credentials and tackle climate change.

“RFID technology is ideal in helping councils gauge household waste levels. This project involves collecting data relating to the weight and make-up of collected waste and will have no impact on bin collection services. The primary focus is to gather data to determine which campaigns and interventions work best to reduce residual waste and increase the volume and efficiency of local recycling. RFID technology offers an innovative approach in collecting data to support this objective which will ultimately help North Lanarkshire achieve its net zero carbon targets.”

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