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East Lothian procurement delayed by DRS

By 13/02/2020News

East Lothian council is to extend its recycling collection contract with Biffa after the process of procuring a new contract was delayed by the need to examine the impact of Scotland’s planned deposit return scheme (DRS).

The local authority, which borders Edinburgh in the East of Scotland, this week (February 10) published a notice setting out plans to award a £750,000 interim deal to Biffa, to start in October 2020 for a duration of six months.

Biffa currently operates a fortnightly, dual stream recycling collection service in East Lothian

Biffa has provided fortnightly collections of dual stream recyclables for residents in East Lothian for a number of years, while residual waste is collected in-house.

This arrangement has been extended several times (see story), most recently in 2018, when the council said it needed time to review its waste management strategy in light of the Scottish Household Waste Charter. The Charter aims for more consistency among council collections in Scotland.

As a result, the council said it formed plans to “introduce a weekly single pass collection for, separated glass, cans and plastics, paper and card, and food waste”.


However, this week’s notice explains that these plans were put on hold after the Scottish Government announced its intention to introduce a deposit return scheme, meaning that the impact of this on the service also needed to be examined.

The notice says: “The subsequent announcement of plans by the Scottish Government to introduce a deposit return system had placed this on hold until the exact scope of the system in terms of the materials to be targeted had been announced.”

It adds: “The scope of the Deposit Return Scheme was announced in May 2019 and additional modelling work carried out to take account of the changes the Deposit Return Scheme will make to both the composition and the volume of the packaging materials that will remain within the kerbside collection system.”


Expected to come into force in 2021, the DRS will enable consumers in Scotland to recoup 20p for every drinks container returned to a shop.

“It is acknowledged that there remains significant uncertainty within the Scottish marketplace”

East Lothian council

However, in March 2019, Tom Reid, East Lothian council’s head of infrastructure, said that the scheme could cost the local authority £250,000 in revenue it receives for recycling materials from recycling companies.

Despite the impact, the council said it would be pressing ahead with a full procurement process.

The council notice says : “Whilst, it is acknowledged that there remains significant uncertainty within the Scottish marketplace, East Lothian Council will issue a PIN notice in due course to indicate our intention to return to market to procure services for the kerbside collection of multi materials.”


Speaking to, a spokeswoman for East Lothian council explained that no changes to the recycling service in East Lothian has been decided and would be dependent on the council’s budget.

At present the council provides blue boxes for the collection of paper and card and green boxes for the collection of glass, cans and plastics. Material is collected every two weeks.

She said: “We, in common with the other 31 councils in Scotland, will find out our budget in early March and any changes to our recycling service would be dependent on that.

“We want to ensure people continue to participate in recycling and how we best do that is the question.”


Hear an update from Scotland at the LARAC Scotland Conference, to be held on 29 April. More information can be found here.

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Source: Packaging