Executive increases waste target but NGOs want more

Scottish Environment Ministers have raised the country's recycling and composting targets for Local Authorities this week as they kick-started Scotland's National Recycling Week.

Previously set at recycling 25% of municipal waste by 2006, the Scottish Executive has now extended this target to reusing or composting 30% of all waste by 2008.

Deputy Environment Minister Lewis Macdonald also announced the government’s decision to invest a further £350 million into improving recycling facilities and diverting waste away from landfill over the next three years.

“National Recycling Week is a timely reminder that we all have a part to play in improving Scotland’s record on waste management,” Mr Macdonald stated.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) expressed their enthusiasm for the new target, which SEPA’s National Waste Strategy Operation Support Manager Joanna Muse said supported a national commitment to positive change, as well as moving Scotland towards a more waste aware culture.

“SEPA is working closely with Local Authorities, business and the community to implement Scotland’s plan to tackle waste, and increasing public awareness will be vital if we are to succeed,” she said.

Ms Muse added that the new target was ambitious, but she felt that with continued effort and investment it would be possible to meet it.

But Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland stated this week that the Scottish Executive and Westminster jointly needed to make radical policy changes immediately if Scotland was ever to have a good recycling record.

The environmental group’s recommendations included: setting a waste minimisation target and developing a zero waste strategy for Scotland; taxing waste that is not recycled or composted; and introducing a plastic bag charge, as has been done in Ireland.

“Given Scotland’s poor record on waste, the Executive’s targets are ambitious but certainly achievable if given enough of the right support,” FoE Scotland’s chief executive, Duncan McLaren, said.

“Although recycling levels are rising, the idea of setting a waste reduction target has so far been rejected. Unless the Executive starts taking serious steps toward reducing overall levels of waste then we will be no further forward in turning around Scotland’s unsustainable use of resources.”

FoE Scotland pointed out in a recent report that dumping waste in Scotland is still so cheap, rubbish is currently shipped in by ferry from Northern Ireland to be dumped in the highlands.

The organisation also highlighted the fact that the Scottish Executive’s national plan only focuses on household rubbish, but three times more waste, weighing in at 9 million tonnes, comes from other sources such as industry and commercial, and this urgently needed to be tackled as well.

By Jane Kettle

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