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Weekly Food Waste Recycling Service for Tenements 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are we doing this?

A: Food waste makes up at least 30% of the average residual waste wheelie bin in West Dunbartonshire, and we can save considerable amounts of waste going to landfill by recycling it. Legislation requires councils to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste being sent to landfill or incur financial penalties.  When buried in a landfill it releases methane, a gas 20 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.  Not only does landfilling food waste damage the environment, it's also very expensive - with the average collection vehicle costing approximately £1,000 every time it is emptied. Under the new service, food waste from West Dunbartonshire will be taken to a facility called an anaerobic digester where it will be turned into electricity and or fertiliser.  It's better for the environment, helps to increase recycling rates, and is cheaper for residents as it helps you manage your food shopping more efficiently.

Q: I don't have time to do this - why should I use this service?

A: By taking part in the food waste collection you will be directly helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by food waste at landfill sites.  Food waste makes up nearly a third of all household waste by weight and can be turned into useful compost.  We have designed this service so it is clean and easy to use; all you will need to do is put your food waste in the kitchen caddy instead of your usual rubbish bin, and put it out in the communal wheelie bin and it will be emptied by a Waste Operative on a weekly basis. To date West Dunbartonshire residents have contributed greatly by helping to recycling within West Dunbartonshire, we are all responsible for generating waste and this is the next step in dealing with it in a responsible way.

Q: What are the benefits of collecting food waste?

A: Collecting food waste for recycling means we are helping to:

  • Divert biodegradable waste from landfill.
    • Improve recycling rates.
    • Reduce waste disposal costs as landfill costs increase.
    • Reduce environmental impacts associated with landfill (toxicity in leachate, landfill gas emissions).
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing the putrescent content from landfill sites.
    • Produce compost and liquid fertilisers for use as soil enrichers.


Q: Would I be able to put food waste in with my normal domestic waste?

A: We would encourage all residents to participate fully in the proposed service as your food waste is collected every week. Also, local authorities face financial penalties if they do not meet targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill.

Q: Can I use plastic bags to line my caddy?

A: Yes, you can. You can also use newspaper as a liner.

Q: Will West Dunbartonshire Council be providing me with more liners when I run out?

A: Initially you will receive a year's supply of bio bags to line your caddy and we will continue to provide a new supply when required, please either telephone 01389 738282 or email with your request. In addition bio bags are available in Council Buildings, community centres and Libraries

Q: Is it not better to reduce food waste than recycle it?

A: Yes, because reducing waste is always the preferred option and it is hoped that as residents start using the system they will be more aware of what food is going to waste in their home and this in turn will enable them to better manage their food purchasing habits. Food waste can result from buying too much, leftovers from preparation, leftovers from meals or from forgetting to use the food before it goes out-of-date. If households reduce the amount of food waste produced it can benefit both the environment and their pockets, as they save money on food bills. To find out more on reducing your food waste see the Love Food Hate Waste website at

Q: Isn't it ok to throw away food waste because natural materials will just rot down?

A: Kitchen rubbish like leftover food can produce methane - a highly potent greenhouse gas - as it degrades because the food waste isn't exposed to oxygen as it breaks down in landfill. As well as being damaging to the environment, it is better to recycle food waste so that it can be used to generate electricity and also as a soil enricher.

Q: When do I get a weekly food waste collection if I live outside the areas first getting the collection for tenements?

A: Initially the service is for tenement householders in Dumbarton, Renton and Vale of Leven. All other tenements in West Dunbartonshire will receive the collection in late 2013. 

Q: What food waste will be collected?

A: All cooked and uncooked food waste can be recycled using your food waste caddies, including:

  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Chicken
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Rice and pasta
  • Fish
  • Teabags and coffee grounds
  • Bones

Q: What should I not put in the food waste collection?

A: Your caddies are intended for food waste only. Please DO NOT use these caddies for any other type of household waste, specifically:

  • Liquids
  • Any oil and fat (including solid fats such as lard)
  • Animal faeces
  • Cardboard
  • Nappies
  • Pet litter
  • Animal bedding

Q: Can I put animal waste and bedding in my food waste caddy?

A: No, do not place animal waste and bedding in the new food waste caddy.  You could place it in with your residual wheelie bin.

Q: Can I continue to compost at home?

A: Yes, if you already compost at home please keep composting. Home composting is still the best way to deal with garden waste as well as a lot of uncooked food waste, such as fruit and vegetable peelings. However cooked food and meat should not be put into normal home composting bins.

Q: I wouldn't need to use this scheme as I compost at home already.

A: We would encourage you to continue composting at home. However, we would collect all meat, fish, bones, cooked food and dairy products using the food waste caddy, which are items you should not put in with your compost at home.

Q. How will the food waste be collected?

A: The food waste will be collected weekly. Every household will be issued with a food waste caddy and a 140 litre communal food waste bin. Waste Operatives will collect the communal food waste bin from the rear of the property, empty it and return it to the rear of the tenement.

Q: How often would I put the communal food waste bin out for collection?

A: No need to do this as the communal food waste bin will be collected by Waste Operatives from the rear of the tenement, it will be emptied and returned to the rear of the tenement.

Q: What would happen if my outside food waste bin is not emptied?

A: It should not be missed but sometimes mistakes are made. Any missed collection should be reported to the Council on 01389 738282 or email  Missed collections will be emptied as soon as possible and within three working days.

Q: Can I take food waste to my local Household Waste Recycling Centre for recycling?

A: No. There are no facilities at the recycling centres to accept food waste.

Q: What will happen to the food waste?

A: It will be taken to a facility that is fully licensed to accept all types of food waste and is compliant with the relevant Regulations.  It is placed in an enclosed vessel where it produces methane gas which is used to drive motors to produce electricity. The whole facility is designed and constructed in order to be safe and comply with strict regulations. This has been tried and tested successfully in various parts of the country. The process also produces compost/fertiliser.

Q: Will the compost be sold to the public?

A: It won't be offered for sale to the public as it is a soil enricher used for industrial and agricultural purposes.  It is not suitable for domestic use as it is not traditional compost in content or consistency and would not give the desired effects in your garden as standard shop bought compost.

Q: I live on my own and do not have a lot of food waste so I don't think this service will be of use to me.

A: We would still encourage you to take part as even if you generate only a small amount of food waste it is better for it to be recycled than sent to landfill.

Q: Where should I keep my kitchen caddy?

A: That would be entirely up to you. Normally we would recommend it is kept on top of a work top in your kitchen where you can access it easily and use it when required.

Q: What about smells, bugs, germs, vermin and flies?

A: If the communal food waste bin is kept clean and locked to keep the lid firmly in place there should no problem with smells, vermin or flies.  The locking feature will prevent smells escaping as well as avoiding attracting unwanted attention from the animal world. The lid of the communal bin should be locked shut for collection. It depends on residents being responsible and wrapping food waste, keeping the bin lid closed and keeping the bin clean there should be no problem with smells, vermin or flies. West Dunbartonshire Council will clean the communal bin as and when required to ensure it is kept clean.

Q: I don't like the thought of storing waste food in my kitchen; won't it be unhygienic or smelly?

A: You will be supplied with a small kitchen caddy which is great for scraping plates and popping out-of-date food items into, although if you do have large or smelly food items it's probably best to put these directly into the outside communal food waste bin. The kitchen caddy has a locking lid, and we recommend that it is emptied into the larger outside food waste bin every few days to prevent problems. Storing the food in the small kitchen caddy will not be very different from putting your food waste into your normal kitchen bin.