Can I recycle on Boxing Day?

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Full bin in Edinburgh
Image caption,
This load of waste was waiting to be taken to landfill on Boxing Day morning

Leftovers, hangovers and mountains of rubbish.

In the cold light of Boxing Day, the excesses of food, drink and gifting are apparent, with houses overtaken by cardboard, paper, bottles and packaging refusing to fit in the wheelie bin.

A BBC survey has found only three council areas in Scotland continue collections and open recycling centres on the Boxing Day public holiday.

So what can we do on Boxing Day when we are drowning in waste?

Well, it depends on where you are in Scotland.

A mixed picture across Scotland

BBC Scotland surveyed all Scotland's local authorities to find out which waste services are provided on Boxing Day. The picture is mixed.

Fifteen councils observed the traditional holiday and provided no kerbside collection or depot facilities at all. Fourteen had either collections or centres operating, while three - Edinburgh, Aberdeen city and Renfrewshire - had both services running.

Councils rate the importance of the service differently. This could partly be down to staffing.

Image caption,
Bins are already overflowing in Edinburgh

The GMB union has said a fairer, more consistent approach is needed across Scotland for the workers who provided these services.

Drew Duffy, senior organiser for public services in Scotland, told the BBC the majority of union members work on Boxing Day not by choice but because they are made to work.

He said: "There's a discrepancy between terms and conditions across the 32 local authorities. Some councils deem it an essential service to the extent they actually have to work and give up time with their friends and family.

''They don't know what they're going to be getting paid in different areas so a more uniform approach across Scotland would be better.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The amount of waste Scots generate is multiplied over the holiday period

He also called for planning to be done further in advance.

"We know it's coming, we know when Christmas is going to be, when Boxing Day is, and we know people will need some kind of refuse service to get their stuff picked up - so let's plan to make it more consistent and fairer across the country," he added.

A spokesman for council umbrella group Cosla said: "The vast majority of conditions of service are determined at a local level by individual councils in negotiation with local trade unions representatives.

"Rates of pay at holiday times falls into this category and, therefore rightly, is a matter for individual councils."

Scots are also warned that rubbish must not be left outside bins, as this could lead to fines of £200, with penalties for fly-tipping up to £40,000.

Can I recycle on Boxing Day? The services in your area.

Aberdeen city - Operates uplift service every day except Christmas Day and New Years Day. Household waste recycling centres are open every day except 25 December and 1 January.

Aberdeenshire - Households will only have their kerbside recycling or residual waste collected on Boxing Day if that is their normal scheduled day of collection. Household waste recycling centres will be closed from 15:00 on Christmas Eve until the morning of 27 December. There are unmanned recycling points around the area.

Angus - Recycling centres will be closed on Boxing Day and no refuse collections will take place on 26 December.

Argyll and Bute - The council operates 'Bring sites' across Argyll and Bute to dispose of excess recyclable material over the holidays. No collections or refuse centres open on the bank holiday.

Clackmannanshire - Kerbside collections due on 26 December will take place on 28 December. The recycling centre is closed on 26 December, and reopens on 27 December.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Wrapping paper and product packaging mounts up at Christmas

Dumfries and Galloway - No collections and all recycling centres are closed 26 December.

Dundee - Tuesday collections will be carried out on 26 December. Recycling centres closed.

East Ayrshire - No collections or recycling centres on 25 and 26 December, or 1 and 2 January. Catch-up collections will take place on 22 and 23 December and 29 and 30 December.

East Dunbartonshire - No recycling or waste collections on 25 and 26 December. More than a dozen unmanned recycling points across the area during this period located at the local supermarkets, leisure centres or in and around town centres.

East Lothian - No collections or waste depots open on Boxing Day.

East Renfrewshire - Recycling centres closed on 26 December but staff will uplift from "bring sites" and continue normal Tuesday collections.

Edinburgh - Kerbside rubbish and recycling collections as usual on Boxing Day. Several recycling centres open limited hours.

Falkirk - No collections on Boxing Day. Denny and Boness recycling centres open.

Fife - No collections and no recycling centres on Boxing Day. Centres will be open on 24, 27, 31 December and 3 January. Recycling points not serviced on 25, 26 December and 1, 2 January.

Glasgow - No kerbside collection service on Boxing Day. Four household waste and recycling centres will be fully staffed from 08:00 to 20:00 (normal service).

Highland - Normal kerbside collection on 26 December. Recycling bottle banks accessible across the region.

Inverclyde - No kerbside collection on Boxing Day. Recycling centres open for reduced hours.

Midlothian - All facilities, including the recycling centres, closed on 25 and 26 December.

Image caption,
These bins in Edinburgh were already full on the morning of 26 December

Moray - No depots or collections on Boxing Day.

North Ayrshire - No kerbside collections and no depots on 26 December

North Lanarkshire - Six household waste recycling centres will be open on Boxing Day and 2 January. No household bin collections.

Orkney Islands - No collection service on Boxing Day.

Perth and Kinross - No domestic or commercial collections on 26 December and recycling centres closed.

Renfrewshire - Waste collections as normal on 26 December and 2 January. Recycling centres open (winter hours).

Image source, Photofusion/Universal Images/Getty Images

Scottish Borders - Kerbside collections are normal. No staffed waste depot services.

Shetland Islands - No waste collection or recycling services. No recycling centre service.

South Ayrshire - Collections on Boxing Day and 2 January (reduced service). No plans to open recycling centres on any of the public holidays.

South Lanarkshire - No collections on Boxing Day, recycling centres will be open.

Stirling - No collections or recycling centres on Boxing Day.

West Dunbartonshire - No collections but staffed household waste recycling centres are open.

Western Isles - Boxing Day is a collection day. Household waste recycling centres are closed for both days.

West Lothian - Food waste collections are planned as normal, but no other kerbside collections. Recycling centres are closed.

Christmas waste advice

In the meantime, if people are unable to get to recycling centres or have later bin collections, Zero Waste Scotland has issued advice on dealing with Christmas waste.

  • Plan ahead and check which items can be recycled. Then check your local recycling centre opening hours and get there when it reopens.
  • Think ahead to disposal of your Christmas tree when the time comes. Find out if your local council has uplift arrangements.
  • Cards - re-use them as shopping lists before taking them to be recycled.
  • Bottles - bottle banks have no opening hours. Find out where they are in your local area.
  • Wrapping mountain - If you can scrunch it in a ball, you can recycle it. Plastic or glitter-coated paper which springs back into shape cannot be recycled. Gift bags and boxes are easy to re-use.

Jill Farrell from Zero Waste Scotland, said: "We all tend to wake up on Boxing Day with loads of food left over from Christmas. Don't let it go to waste. Check out the great leftover recipe ideas on the Love Food Hate Waste Scotland website and you'll be able to give your sprouts and turkey a whole new lease of life.

"If you've been given something for Christmas you're not too fond of, don't just put it in the bin. Re-gifting presents is a wonderful way of giving unwanted presents a second chance while making someone else's day. Alternatively, you could pass on the presents that you no longer want to a charity shop or someone else in need.

"From wrapping paper and boxes to cards and empty bottles, Christmas can generate a lot of waste. Keeping tabs on the recycling can be tricky at this time of year so check out your local authority's website so you don't miss the festive collections."

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