Recycle Route in Scotland

After walking for seven days through breathtaking and vast expansive landscapes along the 96-mile West Highland Way, our grand expedition in July 2015 ended in Fort William, Scotland. With our rucksacks packed with camping gear and waterproof clothing well tested, our attention in the final stage was drawn to brightly-coloured bikes dotted along the busy highstreet of Fort William. On each bike was a plaque, dedicated to present the lifespans of different commonly used items, such as plastic bags, bottles and paper. The plaques were titled Fort William Recycle Route.

“Plastic Bag – 20 years.

Discarded plastic bags clog up landfill sites and often end up in our rivers, oceans, streets and communities. Plastic bags can be recycled at some supermarkets – or, even better – try using a reusable bag rather than single-use plastic bags.”

Keen to learn more about the initiative – albeit a few days of rest later – I contacted those involved with some questions which were kindly posed to the Fort William Town Team committee at a later meeting:

  1. What were the personal motivations for this initiative?

It was a combination really, a concept of brightly coloured bikes highlighting a walking route around Fort William to celebrate the annual Mountain Bike World cup which is proudly held here. This was dreamt up over a coffee and chat by two of our committee members. When it was presented to the rest of the committee at the time our volunteer co-ordinator was employed by Zero Waste Lochaber and he tweaked the idea to be a “re-cycle route” adding education and a means to secure funding to accomplish the idea.

  1. Where did the bikes come from and where will they go next?

The Bike Station – Perth donated all the bikes. A great social enterprise and well worth popping in if you’re ever down in the Perth area. Great deals on some Revolve standard bikes! I’m not sure what the plan is next for the bikes whether we keep them for future projects, an art installation, that is still to be decided.

  1. What feedback have you received from members of the public and what is the expected (or measured) impact on behaviour change?

The feedback overall has been very positive, the Local Chamber of Commerce is running a Snap a selfie competition with an environmentally friendly prize up for grabs to help attract attention to the project. The original aim was to create something fun and interesting to guide visitors through the town and along the promenade which I think has been achieved.

“Plastic Drinks Bottles – 450 years.

Plastics are the largest contributor to waste in the world. If they are left to biodegrade, they break down into tiny poisonous particles which eventually get into our food cycle.”

“Plastic bottles are recyclable and can be made into a plethora of household and business products, including paintbrushes, rugs, pillows, toys and even clothing!

Use your blue bins at home or on the High Street to send them to your local Material Recovery Facility for recycling.”

  1. Until when will the bikes be in situ for the public to see?

The original idea was to have the bikes in situ for the summer tourist season, no plans yet have been made to take them down.

  1. What’s next for the Fort William Town Team?

After completing a re-paint of all the benches along the promenade in bright seaside colours and the introduction of 55 hanging baskets through the high street the Town Team is now about to start planning the annual Fort William Christmas gathering a community celebration the last weekend of November to celebrate the launch of Christmas season.

“Batteries – 100 years.

Batteries, both ordinary and rechargeable, contain highly toxic chemicals and, if left to decay naturally, can seriously damage anything they come in contact with.

There are special recycling facilities to dispose of your batteries in supermarkets or at the recycle centre so collect them at home and take them along for recycling.”

“A big thank-you to [Nathan, Why Conserve] from the Town team for attracting some further attention to our wee projects.”

“Paper – 2-5 months.

Paper is recyclable and compostable.

You can compost shredded paper at home or use the blue bin at home or on the High Street to send it to your local Material Recovery Facility for recycling.”

We thank the Fort William Town Team for sharing their story.

If you’ve been inspired by this story to get outside walking, out on your bike or to recycle your waste, we’d love to hear your story:


Thank you.


1) Recycle your rubbish. 2) Share the interesting facts about the lifespan of plastic bags, drinks bottles, batteries and paper with your friends over a coffee or on social media. 3) Compost paper and cardboard as a way of recycling at home.

Related pages:

What can I do?

Why clean the beach?

Six degrees of separation.

Who will take responsibility for the world you see? (Video, 2 mins)


Other related internet links:

Branding biodiversity: a new nature message.

Love. Not Loss. (Video, 4 mins)

A comment on “Think Global – Act Local” by Mark Avery.


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