Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead has struck a deal with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) to urge councils to use a standardised collection system.
From January councils will be asked to sign up to a “recycling charter”, which promotes a three-stream recycling system, with separated glass, paper and card, and metals and plastics. Residual and food waste collections will continue as normal.
Once on board authorities will be supported by Zero Waste Scotland to introduce the new collections.
Under the charter councils will also commit to reducing collections of residual waste. Falkirk Council became the first in the UK to implement three-weekly collections, and is looking to reduce this to four-weekly next year.
Lochhead said: “This new consistent approach will sweep away the confusion that we all face every time we come across yet another difficult recycling system.
“It will maximise the quantity and quality of materials captured, and allow us to give consistent national messages about what people should do with their recycling, wherever they are in Scotland.”
John Mundell, Inverclyde Council chief executive, “Our household waste recycling in Inverclyde was just under 57% in 2014 and I believe that the charter will help us achieve the challenging national target of 70%.”
He added that a code of practice attached to the charter was “flexible” and reflected the expertise of local government and waste professionals.
The idea to develop a charter was first put forward in June. In November, Cosla approved the proposals for a three-stream system.
Rory Stewart, resource minister at Defra, is set on reducing the number of collection systems in England.
But there have been rumblings within the industry that this would necessitate a major overhaul of existing contracts costing tens of millions of pounds.
There are also concerns that Defra has little sway over councils, which are covered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Zero Waste Scotland director Ian Gulland has indicated to MRW that there have been no cross-border talks over standardised collections.
Reaction:Jane Bickerstaffe, spokesperson for The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS), said: “PRGS welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government and Cosla to work together and build on the success of current recycling systems.
“Through working in partnership, the household recycling charter will bring Scotland a step closer to becoming a leader in sustainability. We believe that strengthening and integrating current recycling systems is the most effective way to boost recycling rates throughout the country.