Scots hit recycling target

Scotland has achieved its self-imposed targets for recycling household waste but whilst some areas are well ahead of this goal there are still significant pockets of poor performance.

The most recent figures, published this week, are for the three months from July to September 2005 and show a steady increase in almost all districts and with the national rate at 25.1% mark the first time Scotland has reached its target.

There are areas that are now achieving positively continental recycling rates, with Clackmannanshire, Stirling and south Lanarkshire all within reach of 40% while at the top of the pile South Ayrshire is achieving 41.1%.

Some districts, however, still have very low figures, with the sparsely populated and geographically isolated Western Isles failing to reach 10%, Shetland just scraping past that at 10.2%.

But while the islands may have understandable logistical problems with waste management, the apparently better placed district of Dumfries & Galloway in Southern Scotland achieved just 11.3% and the Borders performing almost as poorly.

The Scottish Executive’s Environment Minister Ross Finnie said: “We set a target of recycling and composting 25% of municipal waste by 2006.

“The rolling year average from October 2004 to September 2005 was 21 per cent. These figures show that we have increased recycling in Scotland from a low base.

“This follows considerable hard work by local authorities and I am pleased to see steady progress across Scotland.”

Friends of the Earth welcomed the progress in Scotland’s war on waste, but said there was still a long way to go before recycling rates were good, rather than simply better than they had been.

Stuart Hay, a spokesman for FoE, said: “At last we are seeing some decent progress in recycling but the war on Scotland’s poor record on waste is just beginning. We should not forget that Scotland still has a serious waste problem and that not all councils have yet reached the target.

“It is clear that where there is political will and adequate funding, recycling rates can rise rapidly. It is also clear that the vast majority of the public support better facilities and greater incentives to recycle when they are made available.

“Failing councils need pull their socks up, learn from their neighbours and make better progress.”

Mr Finnie said that in order to aid progress a national consultation into recycling had been launched.

“We cannot rest on our laurels,” he said.

“I am determined to see further improvements in Scotland’s recycling rate and I also want to see households minimising their waste.

“Therefore, I am launching a consultation to seek views on what more can be done to reduce the waste we produce.

“This is a big challenge and may involve radical steps. We would encourage as many people as possible to offer views.”

The consultation will look at why homes are producing more waste than ever, the role of manufacturers and retailers in waste reduction, whether to introduce a tax and reward system for recycling saints and sinners and a host of other related issues.

FoE’s Mr Hay said: “Consultation on future action on waste is welcome. Friends of the Earth has long called for action on disposable products and waste minimisation.

“However, until all of Scotland’s households have access to decent recycling facilities it may be premature to directly charge households for waste collection.

“If charging is to be considered then it should be linked to Council Tax discounts for households who reduce waste.”

The consultation document can be found on the Scottish Executive website, or by following the link.

By Sam Bond

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