A PETITION calling on Moray Council to scrap the move to three-weekly green bin collections has amassed more than 3740 signatures.
But the local authority will not consider the online protest, it has emerged, because it does not comply with guidance.
Buckie man Richard Cawston, who started the digital petition through change.org, accused the council of ‘living in the dark ages’ by not accepting the electronic document.
The council said the online element was not the only issue, however, as petitions are invalid if they are about a decision made in the last six months. Petition guidance – www.moray.gov.uk/petitions – states it must be on paper and include a summary of up to 250 words. A number of further restrictions are listed.
Mr Cawston (35) said it seemed like ‘double standards’ as the authority regularly engages with residents online.
He called on the authority to re-think the guidance and said residents should meantime email their councillors to make their opposition known.
The change to three-weekly collections was decided as part of the authority’s budget and is expected to save £100,000-a-year.
The measure was among far-reaching cuts voted through last week, including a £1.2 million reduction in funding for health and social care as well as education cutbacks. Town Halls will be boarded up within months if local communities don’t take them on, while road maintenance has also taken a hit.
The ruling administration group said the measures were needed to help the cash-strapped authority balance the books.
The bin issue has prompted a furious backlash on social media, with residents fearing putrid smells, rats, increased gulls and black bags lying on the streets.
One writer stated: "Recycle more? We recycle everything we can and our bin still only manages to last the two weeks."
Another stated, ‘if we have a hot summer the stench from bins will be horrendous’, while another wrote, ‘I’m not happy at the prospect of tip runs with my boot full of rotten waste’.
Although the majority were opposed to the move, some said it will encourage more recycling.
Others called on supermarkets to reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging they allow on their shelves, while some appealed to the council to recycle all plastics.
"I don’t understand why Moray council will not look into increasing the different types of recycled materials they currently cover," one wrote.
Moray residents are not alone. Other authorities carry out three-weekly collections and some, including Falkirk, only do monthly pick-ups for non-recyclable waste.
Mr Cawston set up the online petition to show the strength of opposition being expressed across the local authority area.
He said: "I live with my partner and we recycle everything we can following the guidance on Moray Council’s website.
"Yet, although there are only two of us, we sometimes struggle to fit everything into the green bin. We have good weeks, when it is half full, but other weeks I have to take bags to the skip.
"For larger families, I wonder how they will cope. Particularly if they don’t have access to a vehicle and don’t live near a recycling centre."
Under the council’s policies, families of five or more or those that have more than one child in nappies could be eligible for a larger bin. Mr Cawston argued that demand will be higher, which will cost the authority cash.
"They will probably have to spend the money they save on providing bigger bins for those who meet the criteria anyway," he said.
The authority said that will be a one-off cost whereas the three-weekly move will bring recurring savings.
A spokesperson said: "The policy for larger bins already exists for larger families so this is not a new cost for implementing this scheme, although it is acknowledged that there may be a greater take up on larger bins as a result of implementing three-weekly collections for the green bins."
In response to calls to increase the range of recycling options, the council said markets for mixed plastics are limited.
The spokesperson said: "By concentrating on recycling PET 1 and HDPE 2 plastics we can maximise the value of recycling these as opposed to a reduced value for mixed plastics."
The authority said residents had taken the recycling message on board, with Moray having the second highest rate in Scotland.
"We also run regular recycling campaigns, and with the switch to three-weekly green bin collections, residents will be incentivised to recycle even more," the spokesperson added.
Recent figures showed that just over half of the waste placed in green bins in Moray could have been recycled at the kerbside. Food and garden waste made up 35% of the average household bin.
Last year, Moray’s landfill tax bill cost £1.8 million. A new energy-from-waste plant, which is being built in Aberdeen with support from Aberdeenshire and Moray Councils, is not expected to commence service until 2021. The Scottish Government has set a target that by 2025, a maximum of five percent of all waste will be sent to landfill.