Double or trouble for Scottish recycling

Scotland must double its recycling effort in order to meet 2006 targets, Friends of the Earth Scotland stated in response to the recycling figures published by the Executive this week.

Despite higher recycling levels being recorded throughout the country, the national audit also revealed huge discrepancies from one town to the next, with four local authorities recycling over 20% of their waste, while eight were still only reaching 7% or less.

Key points from the audit report included:

  • Councils collected 3.3 million tonnes of waste in 2003/04, which is 3% more than the previous year
  • Of this, they recycled or composted a total of 12.3%, an increase of 2.7% from the year before
  • Councils sent around 1.8 million tonnes of biodegradable waste to landfill, a slight increase on 1.78 million tonnes the previous year

    The recycling target for Scottish councils by 2006 is 25%, and the target reduction in the amount of biodegradable waste send to landfill is set at 1.5 million tonnes.

    Obligations to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill were being undermined by ever-rising waste volumes, according to FoE Scotland, with garbage levels growing faster than recycling.

    Scotland urgently needed to tackle rising waste volumes in order to reduce resource use and its dependence on polluting landfill, head of research at FoE Dr Dan Barlow said, and it was vital more money and effort was directed towards cutting waste levels.

    "Without a doubling of recycling in the next two years, the Executive's 25% recycling target will not be met," he stated. "It is disappointing that eight local authorities have yet to exceed a 7% recycling rate and that one third of Scotland's councils have failed to lift their recycling rates by one single percentage point since last year."

    "The Executive must aim to reduce waste volumes year on year and ensure that access to kerbside recycling collection for all is accompanied by greater support for the development of recycling infrastructure and markets."

    Two thirds of Scottish local authorities failed to increase local recycling levels by one percentage point.

    By Jane Kettle

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