‘Zero waste’ drive planned in Scotland

Plans to create a 'zero waste Scotland' by boosting recycling and capping waste incineration have been announced by Scottish government chiefs.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead outlined ministers’ ambitions to recycle or compost at least 50% of municipal waste by 2013, rising to at least 60% by 2020 and a minimum of 70% by 2025.

The government aims to reduce the amount of landfilled municipal waste to a maximum of 5% by 2025 and allow only a quarter of household waste – 4% of the country’s waste – to be treated by small, efficient energy-from-waste plants.

Mr Lochhead told MSPs: “The government is opposed to large, inefficient energy-from-waste plants. Such plants could easily become white elephants and drain public funds.”

More than £150m is set to be spent on zero waste projects over the next three years to support recycling and composting infrastructure, tackle commercial and industrial waste, and run education and awareness programmes.

Mr Lochhead said: “Prior to the Scottish Parliament, Scotland’s record was dreadful. We were a throwaway society, burying our waste out of sight and out of mind and recycling barely 5% of household waste. As everyone acknowledges, we need to move away from landfill.”

Green MSPs criticised the decision to allow 25% of household rubbish to be sent to energy-from-waste plants.

Scottish Green Party Co-convenor Robin Harper said: “It is grossly misleading for ministers to describe burning up to a quarter of Scotland’s waste as part of a zero waste strategy.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the announcement, and the decision to focus on smaller, more efficient energy-from-waste plants, but said there was a lot of work to be done to meet the ambitious targets.

Head of campaigns Stuart Hay said: “Some countries already recycle twice as much waste as Scotland.

“This shows that we still need more investment in the right facilities if we are to shake off the tag of ‘dirty man of Europe’. We also need to slash the amount of waste we produce.”

Kate Martin

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