THE building of more houses is giving Fife Council a financial headache due to an increasing amount of rubbish piling up at landfill sites.

Together with a sharp fall in the prices they’re getting for recyclables, it’s added up to a £1 million hit for Fife Council.

And a councillor says the residents who “can’t be bothered” to put the right rubbish in the right bin are only making it worse.

Ross Vettraino said: “Because of my role as environment convener, if I’m walking down the street I’ll look in blue bins to see what people are throwing away and it makes me angry when I see they’re just putting anything in there – bottles, cans, food, plastics.

“It’s a constant battle for local authorities. Every tonne of waste that goes to landfill costs us £85 in landfill tax so if we recycle more, the cost to the taxpayer goes down.

“But there’s a small percentage of the community that can’t be bothered recycling.

“Fixed penalties have been mentioned, I think there was something passed a while back that allowed local authorities to do so, but it’s the old story.

“If they don’t pay then the procurator fiscal won’t take it any further unless someone actually saw them put the stuff in the bin.

“And if thousands of Fifers don’t see it happening, what chance do the 35 enforcement officers have?”

A report to the environment, protective services and community safety committee said the price the council received for waste paper collected in the grey bins “reduced drastically” last year and led to a £591,000 overspend.

This was “mainly due” to a drop of £450,000 in income from sales of paper.

The same report said there was also a £503,000 overspend that was down to more waste going to landfill, with the council having to pay more landfill tax as a result.

It said: “The increase in tonnage is linked to the increase in the number of households in Fife, resulting in an increase in household waste.”

Cllt Vettraino, the convener of the committee, explained: “The bottom fell out of the waste paper and plastic recycling market, mainly because of decisions taken in China, but the price just plunged and it affects income.

“You can work to a budget but when something like that happens, what can you do? The prices are recovering slightly so we’ll see what happens.

“The other shortfall is down to an increase in household waste. People are getting less conscientious about what goes to the tip and we’re tipping more due to an increase in housing and population.

“If you put more stuff to landfill, you have to pay more for it.

“A lot of this is beyond the council’s immediate control. We just have to deal with it as best we can and try and prevent waste arising in the first place.”

He continued: “We need to get smarter as as society if we really want to look after the planet. We need legislation about the packaging materials so they can be made of bio-degradable or wholly recyclable materials, and then the technology to enable it all to be re-used.

“You get half litre bottles of water from vending machines, the bottle is recyclable but the label isn’t and the cap isn’t.

“What’s the use of that? We need legislation from governments across Europe, everyone wants to be greener but they need to put their money where their mouths are.”