This year the LARAC Scotland event took on a different feel as a more expansive exhibition area was added to support and compliment the conference programme. The programme as always was geared towards the local authority LARAC members in Scotland and had the mix of high level policy thinking and detailed case studies that are a feature of LARAC events nowadays.
Iain Gulland from Zero Waste Scotland had the opening speaking slot of the day and went with the modern theme of the Circular Economy and what the local authority role might be. Like all good opening speakers, the presentation was thought provoking and got the mind churning for the rest of the day. Iain brought in subjects such as procurement and economic benefits to move the debate slightly away from the traditional recycling process.
Next up SEPA outlined projects they had been undertaking on Duty of Care with households and business and the refreshing viewpoint of trying to understand why non-compliance happens. The stats in some instances were disappointing but there appeared a real willing ness to do more at the front end with communications and education so that less enforcement is needed at the backend.
The first session was rounded out with Andy Rees giving an overview of the progress in Wales and the obvious cross over with the advances being made in Scotland. It was interesting to see both the comparisons and differences between eth two nations that are leading the way with UK recycling. Even though there is funding going into Scottish authorities it still appeared small compared to that in Wales.
The second session started with a lively topic and presentation from Coca Cola on the topic of deposit return schemes. It seems there is still more work to do to unravel just how such a system could work in the UK, what it might achieve and what impacts it would have on local authority collection services. There are many questions that still need answering to the satisfaction of a wide variety of groups.
Next up came two case studies, one from Angus on their move to a chargeable garden waste service and one from Falkirk on their journey towards complying with the Collection Charter. The example from Angus highlighted the stark choices facing local authorities across the UK today – charge for a service or withdraw it. They had considered five different possible models for the service but it came down to these two, and a charged for service was implemented, with a very good take up.
The final session after lunch started off with a look at communications and how the collection vehicles used on the collection rounds can be thought of as a highly visible mobile billboard. These can be used to promote more than just recycling messages and can be used to engage residents on other council services as well. Then we moved onto the topic of re-use which can still struggle to find the foothold it should but was shown how it can play an important role in a complete resource efficient service, and how it promotes the non-environmental pillars of sustainability, economy and wellbeing.
To round out the event Zero Waste Scotland gave a whistle tour of their work with local authorities and how work on adopting the Collections Charter is progressing. It showed that Scotland is hot on the heels of Wales and putting distance between it and England when it comes to moving recycling levels higher.