Scotland to rethink waste and recycling with help of £56 million

The Scottish Minister for Transport and the Environment has announced the details of her plans for changing Scotland’s strategy on waste and recycling with a total of an extra £56 million over the next three years.

Previously made known in Sarah Boyack’s environment spending announcement on 22 September, a Scottish Executive spokesperson told edie, a £50 million Strategic Waste Fund is to be made available over three years to local authorities for the implementation of the National Waste Strategy Scotland. During the financial year 2001/2002, authorities will receive £4 million, followed by £16 million the next year, and £30 million for 2002/2004.

In order to kick-start the Fund, said Boyack, an extra £3 million is to be distributed to local authorities. Over three years, £2 million will be spent as Scotland’s contribution to joining the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) (see related story), and £400,000 has been designated for innovative projects or groups working on waste prevention, re-use, recycling and composting.

“I am pleased the Executive has been able to commit considerable resources to allow local authorities to bring about real change in the way we deal with our waste, change which the public wants and Scotland needs,” said the Minister.

Though the fine details of the spending will be decided by local authorities, it is expected that the money will go to activities and equipment such as separate collections for recycling, composting machinery, materials reclamation facilities, energy from waste technology, and integrated waste management contracts. It is hoped that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) will assist with identifying funding priorities.

“For years we have disposed of our waste in the cheapest way possible, simply dumping it in landfill sites,” said Boyack. “To create a better environment, we need to change the way we deal with waste, investing in modern facilities to bring Scotland’s waste management into the 21st Century.”

“Research shows the reality we face in the future,” said Boyack. “If the growth in waste production continues, in the next ten years we will have to recycle or compost at least 12 times more than at present. There must be a new focus on reuse, recycling, composting and energy recover.”

Commenting on the Minister’s announcement COSLA’s Waste Management Spokesperson Councillor Julie Sturrock said, “Local government welcomes the commitment shown by Sarah Boyack today which clearly illustrates an understanding by the Executive of the magnitude of the waste disposal problem in Scotland.”

Environmentalists welcomed the announcement. “We are suffering from a recycling crisis, with Scotland at the bottom of the European league,” said Dr Richard Dixon, Head of Research at Friends of the Earth. “Today’s announcement of real investment in infrastructure and equipment shows a genuine commitment by the Executive to tackle our growing waste problem. This is the first clear sign that the Government are really going to back up SEPA’s work on the National Waste Strategy and help to deliver appropriate waste solutions at the regional level. In the grand scheme of things this is a small amount of money but it is a great start after years of neglect and it will help us towards the ideal of kerb-side collections for recyclable materials in most areas of Scotland.”

There is fear, however, that the money could be used to fund a new generation of incinerators if more is not done to cut down on the amount of waste produced in the first place.

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