FIRMS dumping commercial waste at Fife Council recycling centres are costing the local authority £1.5 million a year – and they want that money back. 

Some companies are also leaving their rubbish at the sites illegally but there are fears that a new cashless payment system and tougher measures will lead to fly-tipping, while a business owner warned it “will definitely put people out of business”. 

From January 1, there will be changes designed to ensure ‘full cost recovery’ for the council. 

Councillor Ross Vettraino, convener of the environment, protective services and community safety committee, said: “The new payment system for commercial customers is simple and easy to use. 

“Customers register online and top up their balance, which is then used to pay for waste disposal on entering.

“Currently, accepting commercial waste service at the council’s household waste recycling centres is costing the council tax payers in Fife in excess of £1.5m per annum.

"Unlike some other neighbouring local authorities, Fife Council wants to continue to assist local businesses, but this can only be done if full costs are recovered.

"These changes are ensuring that we’re supporting our local businesses fairly.”

Commercial organisations can dispose of material at nine of Fife’s household waste recycling centres.

The smaller facilities, such as Dalgety Bay and Lochgelly, will operate a standard charge but there is a reduced rate for those who can take their rubbish direct to Lochhead, north of Dunfermline, as this lowers the need for additional haulage. 

All customers in vehicles disposing of household waste using a trailer will have to fill out forms and provide proof of address and pedestrian access to recycling centres will be prohibited from January 1. 

Cllr Vettraino told the Press: “By failing to recover full costs, the council is effectively subsidising some businesses and is distorting competition by enabling those businesses to lower their customer charges, compared with businesses that pay full commercial waste disposal costs.

"The charges are actual costs and do not include any element of profit. It should also be noted that there are over a dozen private waste disposal companies operating in Fife, so those who produce commercial waste can ‘shop around’.”

Last month, Kelty businessman Joe Reed, who runs Joe’s Garden Services, said: “If I am doing a garden clearance, we are up the tip four or five times. We would need to add £200 to our bill and then you get the older clients who we try and keep things within their budget. At the moment, they send us a six-monthly bill which is £450 – this went up as last year it was £300.”

There are 11 recycling centres across Fife. The two large sites, at Lochhead and Ladybank, are open seven days a week and do not close at lunchtimes. The smaller centres are shut for two days every week and for 45 minutes at lunch. Cowdenbeath is closed on Monday and Thursday, Dalgety Bay is closed on Wednesday and Friday and Lochgelly on Tuesday and Friday.