Innovation Exchange

Waste Strategy


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Dundee City Council’s waste strategy team has delivered a project that goes beyond the requirements of the regulations and provides recycling services tailored to Dundee’s infrastructure – specifically focusing on the provision of food waste collections at flats and tenements.


Dundee City Council is one of the first local authorities in Scotland to introduce such an initiative and was invited to share best practice at the 2015 APSE Conference, and has since hosted visits from other local authorities to demonstrate its success.

Theme: Service Transformation

dundee city council logo

In waste collection, the Council’s key objectives are to reduce the amount of waste being sent for disposal and increase the high quality recyclate being sent for reprocessing, whilst providing a comprehensive, sustainable and consistent service to the residents of Dundee. In doing so, we will also be doing our part to assist the Scottish Government’s aim to move towards a Zero WasteScotland - realising the resource potential of “waste” and supporting Scotland’s circular economy.


Waste and recycling are the only frontline services which affect every single resident regardless of their income, housing or family situation. We therefore took great care in planning collection arrangements which tried to address the issues of inconsistent service across the city, particularly for residents of flatted property, and in doing so came up with a bespoke, Dundee-specific solution which is now being replicated by other local authorities in Scotland.


The project to change waste collections has been broken into phases, each covering a different section of the city, with time built in to allow lessons learned from the previous phase to continuously foster improvements for the next. The team was small and had a huge amount of work to accomplish in a short period. This barrier was overcome by thorough and detailed planning, a willingness to adapt and work outwith our areas of expertise and a practical approach to getting the job done.


In addition, we faced a significant barrier in attempting to change attitudes and behaviours  with regard to recycling - particularly when changing the frequency of collections. To overcome this we sought to engage frequently with residents, attending community group meetings and residents associations, and holding our own drop-in information sessions. In addition, we undertook extensive public consultation wherever

practicable, allowing service users to have an input

The project currently exceeds all of our expectations – we implemented the changes in order to comply with regulatory changes but also in order to introduce a consistent and sustainable service to the residents of the city, one which creates high quality and accessible services within communities and helps Dundee move towards becoming a low carbon sustainable city. We hoped that our dedication to providing services to flatted properties would give a greater push towards waste reduction and increased high quality recycling in Dundee, thus proving our commitment to the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste agenda.


We expected to meet some resistance from residents with regard to the changes and expected to see this translated into the data we collected on recycling tonnages, participation rates etc. Instead, we have seen a healthy increase in our overall recycling rate for the city – and an area-specific recycling rate (in the third of the city currently in receipt of the changed services) of over 50%. We had set ourselves a target recycling rate upon full completion of all six phases, and to see these early signs of public acceptance and adoption is very encouraging. It tells us that residents in Dundee are responding well to our targeted communications campaign and are working with us in moving towards a more sustainable waste management service for the city. The feedback we have received from residents has been on the whole very positive and we have put measures in place to action any negative comments we receive in order to ensure that we resolve any issues which arise quickly and efficiently.


We continue to monitor progress and have sought external funding to enable us to undertake engagement work in areas where participation is low and contamination of bins is high in order to raise awareness of how the new service should be used and address these issues at source. Feedback from residents is actively sought during this process and used to help amend and enhance the communications strategy for future phases as we continue to plan rollout of the services across the remainder of the city.

This project is innovative as it has tackled the issue of recycling for flats and come up with a bespoke solution for Dundee. Typically, flats and tenements do not receive recycling services due to space restrictions and difficulties in engaging with residents. This is especially true for food waste recycling because of the difficulties in getting residents to accept using communal containers for this particular material. Here, we sought to identify communal bins which were essentially self-contained storage units – hiding the waste from view and enabling residents to deposit their own food waste without coming into contact with the food waste left by their neighbours as would be the conventional way. These clean, sturdy units can be safely used on-street to provide a convenient service to residents, they have a smaller footprint than conventional communal bins, enabling  them to be used almost anywhere, and they are of a sleek and modern design which is both easy to use and easy to identify without being an eyesore.


The careful planning and sourcing of these units has enabled Dundee to be one of the first local authorities in Scotland to offer food waste collections to flatted properties and led to us being invited to speak at the 2015 APSE conference to offer a perspective on our innovative approach and assist other local authorities in introducing similar programmes by offering advice on best practice. Our results - our recycling rates and levels of participation in the scheme – demonstrate that this step is helping Dundee move towards becoming a low carbon sustainable city.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Janet Wade

Implementation Project Manager

Dundee City Council

01382 436297

Case study added to site: June 2016

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