The streets of the centre of Edinburgh will soon be cleaner and greener when black refuse sacks are phased out and replaced with more modern waste containers.

Communal bins and gull-proof bags are being introduced onto the majority of streets in the World Heritage Site as part of the Modernising Waste project following two years of extensive public consultation.

The World Heritage Site is the last remaining area of the city where domestic waste is collected in this way. The Modernising Waste scheme was launched to identify more effective and appropriate methods of waste collection, as bags are vulnerable to being ripped open by birds and vermin, leading to significant litter problems.

Pilots of alternative waste collections were launched in selected areas in 2010 and subsequent evaluation found that 91% of customers were satisfied with communal bins, while 87% were happy with gull-proof bags, and that both methods proved effective in reducing litter from household waste.

As much of the city centre is a World Heritage site, assessments by Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Scotland were carried out and concluded that, with careful consideration to location and siting, both forms of collection would be appropriate.

Since then, further public consultation has been carried out, including an online survey and a resident-led survey on the streets, and regular meetings with community councils, Historic Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage, local councillors, and residents’ associations.

Members of the Council’s Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee considered the results of the pilots and surveys and approved the phasing out of black bags in November 2011.

The new system will begin with the Old Town during the week of 13 May 2013, and in the New Town and West End in June and July. An online map outlining what collection method will be used on which streets is now available.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “We have worked very closely with local residents and heritage organisations on the most efficient and acceptable refuse collection system for the city centre, recognising that different areas need different approaches.

“Residents’ opinions were extremely important to the process of introducing new collection methods, and I am grateful to everyone who took part in the extensive public consultation.

“Their views have been carefully balanced with the need to preserve the historic charm of the city centre, the need to ensure that Edinburgh remains as litter-free as possible and the practicalities of providing an efficient waste collection service.”



  1. Great idea. Shame they’re not fox-proof, too. The wildlife is getting desperate already. What a mess! It’s hard to clean out the bags, too. They’re very deep. There’s no point in double bagging using regular black plastic bags, either. A fox can get through two or more with ease.

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