A LACK of clarity on exactly what materials can and can’t be recycled or re-used is hampering Helensburgh’s efforts to do its bit for the environment, the town’s community council has been told.

As reported in the Advertiser, new government figures show that the amount of waste material from homes in Argyll and Bute which was recycled in 2018-19 fell compared to the previous 12 months.

But members of the Plastic Free Helensburgh group are keen to help “educate, enable and encourage” people living in the town to try and cut down on single-use plastics in the area.

READ MORE: Household waste recycling rates fall in Argyll and Bute

The suggestion that a lack of knowledge is affecting recycling rates in the area was raised at a meeting of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) on Thursday, September 26.

Rosie Sumsion, a Plastic Free Helensburgh member who also represents the Helensburgh and Lomond Youth Forum on HCC, said: “We want to educate, enable and encourage people to go plastic free if we can.

“Educating is about showing people examples where they can change their behaviour, such as swapping bottles of shampoo for a shampoo bar.

“Enabling is about providing facilities and services such as the new ‘zero waste shop’ in the town – we know there are people who want to do it, it’s a question of how to help them do it, and making sure they know exactly where they can go for a particular thing.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh's new zero waste shop is open for business

Lorna Douglas, one of the town centre’s Argyll and Bute councillors, who is also a Plastic Free Helensburgh member, said: “We’ve spoken to the council about the possibility of providing signage to get people thinking about whether a particular item can be re-used by someone.

“I’ve also asked the council to look into whether they could widen the scope of recycling, and they’re willing to have an officer work with the group.”

HCC member David Sinclair asked whether it was still correct that items such as milk bottle tops should be removed before the bottles themselves are put into recycling bins.

And HCC minutes secretary Irina Agostinelli added: “Half the town says ‘plastic free is only for posh people’. That’s rubbish, but a lot of people feel they’re fighting so much with their own daily problems that they don’t have time to think about becoming ‘plastic free’.”

READ MORE: Community group bids to make Helensburgh plastic free

Cllr Douglas replied: “At the opening day of the ‘zero waste shop’ last month, Fiona McLeod [one of Plastic Free Helensburgh’s founders] had a brilliant visual demonstration of what can and can’t be recycled.

“It would be good to get her here to talk to the community council in more detail.”