THOUSANDS of recycling bins are being removed from the streets in East Lothian after contamination levels spiralled.

East Lothian Council is one of the few local authorities in Scotland to retain recycling boxes for most of its households and has a 54 per cent recycling rate – higher than the national average.

However, Tom Reid, the council’s head of infrastructure, revealed that it had rolled out 3,000 communal recycling bins  in small communities and densely populated streets.

But, he said, the result had been a much higher contamination level in the recycled waste which suggested that if bins were rolled out across the county it could cost the council up to £2million. The bins, first used in 2015, are now being removed by the council and replaced with individual boxes.

Mr Reid told a meeting of the council’s policy and performance review committee that the bins had not been a success.

Councillor Gordon Mackett asked why wheelie bins could not be used, saying he was told by people they “would recycle more if they had wheelie bins”.

But Mr Reid said: “Using the boxes produces a higher quality of recycling waste and we currently sell it for up to £250,000.

“We have 3,000 wheelie bins out there and the result has been a disappointing 40 to 45 per cent contamination.

“If we moved to wheelie bins we would have to pay out between £1million to £2million to decontaminate the materials.”

A council spokesperson said the recycling bins had already been removed from some parts of the county, with the rest expected to be replaced by boxes in the near future.