City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Dubbed Top City for Sustainability

By edg - Posted on 29 October 2008

Sighthill Recycling Centre

Edinburgh has been praised for its green credentials in a round-up of the world's most sustainable cities. The report by the Ethisphere Institute, a US think tank and business group, listed 20 cities that are laying the foundations to become the most sustainable cities of 2020.

Edinburgh was selected as one of the top 10 mid-sized (under 600,000 population) cities of the world. Emphasis seems to be in particular on the ability of city councils to work with local businesses in developing sustainable strategies for the future.

The report says:

"The stoic grey landscape and lush green foliage clash in a harmony of man and nature. So is the link between the environment and business in this historic city. Looking to be an innovative hub of the UK, Edinburgh has made sustainability a priority. Along with initiatives that focus on the environment, the city recognizes the need to attract new businesses as well. City Council members are talking with local business owners to support the growth of new jobs without compromising the unique qualities of the city. Citizens are also doing their part to contribute to the sustainability of the city such as participating in the city's recycling program - recycling rates in Edinburgh increased five fold from 2002 to 2007."

The five fold increase in recycling is a flattering number: Edinburgh's recycling rate is low compared to other European cities - the Swiss, for example, had over 50% recycling rates as long ago as 2000. We started from a low base in 2002 and Scottish Environment Protection Agency figures for the year April 2007 to March 2008 show that Edinburgh recycled and composted only 27.1% of its 252,078 tonnes of waste. By comparison, England and Wales municipal recycling is on average 31% according to DEFRA.

The only other UK city included in the Ethisphere round-up was London, in a separate list of the ten top large, sustainable cities (over 600,000).

Other mid-sized cities included Copenhagen, Denmark, famous for its very high numbers of cyclists; Reykjavik, Iceland, which has the biggest geothermal heating system in the world; and Portland, USA, which the institute recognised for its "well established sustainable development mindset."

Green waste collection expanded

Edinburgh City Council recently announced that it will collect garden waste the whole year round,
rather than just the 9 months of the year to November. Garden waste
collections will continue on a monthly basis right through the
colder months, with fortnightly collections scheduled to resume in
March 2009. It is also extending the service to another
10,000 households, bringing the total number to 120,000 households.

Already in 2008, city gardeners have collected nearly 12,000
tonnes of garden waste for recycling.

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If Edinburgh is one of the best examples of sustainable living then I don't hold up much hope for humankind's future.