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New slim bins for West Lothian - important information

West Lothian Council is set to become the latest Scottish local authority to replace existing landfill (grey) bins with new slim bins.

Slim Bins

  • All 140 'Slim Bin' roadshows have been completed. If any residents require any further information or advice please contact customer services by phoning 01506 280000 or emailing

What are the changes?

Between May 2016 and the end-of-the-year West Lothian Council will be exchanging 240 litre grey bins for a slim 140 litre bins. The changes are designed to encourage residents to put less waste into landfill (grey) bins and recycle more. 

A number of Scottish councils have already made similar changes to either the size of bins or the frequency of collections. City of Edinburgh Council and Perth and Kinross Council have already introduced smaller bins.

Fortnightly collections of grey bins will be retained.

  • Following the roll out of the new slim bins, any householder can request a larger blue and/or brown bin, or an additional food waste caddy. There is no additional charge for this service. See FAQs below for more details.

This change is designed to encourage householders to recycle more and put less waste into grey bins.

  • If a household genuinely requires extra grey bin capacity through medical reasons or the number of people within the household then residents can make a request to the council.   Each request is taken on its own merits and dealt with through existing service standards. There is no additional charge. See FAQs below for more details.

When will the changes take place?

The roll out of the new bins will be phased in area by area. The process starts in May 2016 and all West Lothian residents should have received their replacement bin by the beginning of 2017. No bins will be delivered during the summer holidays.

Residents who already have approved extra capacity landfill (grey bins) for medical reasons will automatically receive extra capacity when the slim bins are delivered.

Why change?

The changes are designed to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of money being spent on sending household waste to landfill.

Reducing the size of grey bins should bring a number of benefits, including:

  • An extra 7,000 tonnes of grey bin (landfill) waste will be recycled each year in West Lothian
  • Household recycling rates will increase by nearly 10%
  • Sending waste to landfill is costly (the council spent £3.8million in 2014/15). Reducing the size of the grey bin will result in savings of £238,000 per year in West Lothian
  • Jobs will be created to meet the expected increase in materials being recycling

Why is the change necessary?

Landfill and recycling targets are set across the country by the Scottish Government and the European Waste Framework Directive. From 2021 no biodegradable materials can be accepted into a Scottish landfill site meaning that the challenges associated with disposing of landfill waste are not going to go away. Last year West Lothian Council spent over £3.8million sending grey bin waste for disposal in landfill sites. Rising costs associated with sending waste to landfill are forcing all Scottish councils to look at how they dispose of waste in future. Other councils have already introduced slim grey (landfill) bins.

Recycling in West Lothian - the need to change our behaviour

Over 92% of West Lothian households are able to recycle at home, yet the amount of recyclable material within the grey 'landfill' bin is still very high. The results of the council's analysis show that 78% of the material within the grey bin, by weight, could have been recycled using our existing recycling services.

If householders use all the existing recycling facilities available to them, the impact of having a slim bin should not adversely affect them. This has been shown to be the case in other areas that have introduced smaller bins.

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "Every tonne of waste sent to landfill means that there is less money to spend on vital services for local people.  By spending more money on sending waste to landfill, we are essentially throwing money into the bin. 

"West Lothian's recycling rates have risen over recent years however there is a lot more that householders can do to recycle and to reduce the amount being sent to landfill. If all materials were to be correctly recycled at the kerbside, the council would save £1.65 million per year. If you include material that could have been recycled at Community Recycling Centres, textile bank or glass recycling sites, the saving would be £2.26 million per year."

"All Scottish councils need to achieve higher and higher amounts of recycling as Scotland seeks to recycle 60% of its household waste by 2020 and 70% by 2025. To put it simply - all councils must increase the amount of waste that is recycled and decrease the amount of waste that is sent to landfill. Councils must look at the options available to them and reducing the size of the grey (landfill) bin has proved to be successful in other areas of Scotland."

Other frequently asked questions

Do householders need to do anything?

Householders do not need to do anything other than present their bins for collection as normal. The current grey bins will be replaced in a rolling programme during 2016.

The week after you receive your new bin, put out both your old grey bin and your new slim grey bin to be emptied on your collection day.  Once this has happened, please return your new slim bin to your property but leave your old grey bin out so that we can remove it.  If your original grey bin is emptied but not removed please leave it out as we will come back to collect it. 

Do not re-fill your original grey bin once it has been emptied. 

I have a large family and won't be able to cope with a smaller bin. What can I do?

Other councils have tested smaller bins (140L) with families of different sizes. These tests have shown that even larger families were able to manage provided they were also using other recycling collection services correctly. However, if a household genuinely requires extra capacity through medical reasons or the number of people within the household then residents can make a request to the council.  This will be determined through the existing Service Standards procedure with each case taken on its own merits.

Requests for additional capacity for medical reasons should be made by contacting your local District Nurse team

If you are requesting additional capacity for other reasons, please call 01506 280000 or email

Don't residents already recycle everything?

Unfortunately we do not recycle enough. The council's research, which includes regular monitoring across the county, shows that 78% of the material within the grey bin, by weight, could have been recycled using our existing recycling services. Reducing the amount of general waste we collect at the kerbside should increase household recycling rates by nearly 10%, so there is still more work to be done.

Can I apply for a larger blue, brown or food waste caddy?

Yes. West Lothian Council can provide larger blue or brown bins, and/or food waste caddies, free of charge. Please email:​ or call 01506 280000

Won't this lead to more fly tipping?

Other councils which have introduced similar schemes have noticed a temporary, short term increase in fly tipping which then reduces when residents become used to the new arrangements.

However, it is important to remember that fly tipping is a criminal offence, and any one caught will be fined.

Why can't you target those people who don't recycle instead of targeting everyone?

If householders use all the existing recycling facilities available to them, the impact of having a slim bin should not adversely affect them. This has been shown to be the case in other areas that have introduced smaller bins. The new slim bin will only affect those that do not recycle correctly. Residents who currently fully use the recycling service correctly should not have any difficulty in managing with the new slim bin.

If I have extra waste to dispose of what should I do?

West Lothian Council provides six Community Recycling Centres where residents can take household items to be recycled or disposed of. Details of the locations and opening hours of recycling centres can be found here.

The council also offers a collection service for bulky household items. You can book a collection of large bulky household items by using our request a bulky uplift form or by calling us on 01506 280000 to arrange a collection date. Customers may request up to a maximum of 3 FREE uplifts per year.

What about glass recycling?

The council does not provide a doorstep recycling service for glass but has invested heavily to increase the number of glass recycling facilities from 36 to 200. Click here to view glass recycling locations in West Lothian. 

In addition, the council has also introduced new housings which encase the bin, helping to reduce noise and enabling collection via our split compartment vehicle, which greatly speeds up the collection time.

What happens to the old grey bins once you collect them?

Bins that are reusable will be reused inside glass recycling facilities. Bins that cannot be reused will be recycled

Will replacing the bins not cost the council money?

There is a cost associated with introducing the new slim bins but overall the council will save substantially more money than it will spend by replacing the bins. Essentially the council will save money because less waste will be sent to landfill.

Will the assisted collection service still be available?

If you currently receive our assisted collection service you will continue to receive this when the new smaller grey bins are introduced. 

Will my new bin have my house number on it?

No, the council no longer supplies the sticky bin numbers but we do recommend that you number the bin yourself. 

How can I find out more?

If you have any questions or require further information please email:​ or call 01506 280000.