Recycling in Scotland nears 30% but higher targets are possible

SCOTLAND must do more to cut levels of household waste, despite new figures that show record levels of recycling.

Statistics from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) show that more than 28 per cent of household waste is now recycled, an increase of four points.

The figures were released as industry chiefs, academics and politicians gathered in Edinburgh to discuss how to deal with the country's growing levels of refuse.

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The environment minister, Mike Russell, said he welcomed SEPA's findings but the government had a responsibility to lead the way in improving them.

He said: "I think we are making progress. Recycling didn't exist five years ago and now we are storming ahead, but we should ask, 'What more can we do?'

"There are some areas with 50 per cent recycling, but we have to ask if this is enough or if we should stop stuff going into the chain at the bottom."

The secretary for rural affairs and the environment, Richard Lochhead, who also attended the conference, said: "As a nation, we must preserve the planet's resources by stepping up our efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling.

"SEPA's latest figures point to recycling rates improving with 28.4 per cent of waste in Scotland in 2006-7 recycled or composted. And the figures show improvements across the country, with the lowest rate being 16.8 per cent."

But he added more was required to "tackle waste growth in our move towards a zero waste society".

According to SEPA, just over 28 per cent of waste generated in Scotland between April 2006 and March 2007 was recycled, compared to about 24 per cent the previous year and about 17 per cent the year before that.

Clackmannanshire has the highest recycling rate (43.6 per cent), while Glasgow comes out bottom of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, with just 16.8 per cent.

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Dr Dan Barlow, acting director of WWF Scotland, said efforts had to be made to reduce the amount of waste generated.

He added: "We need to be looking at it as a resource, rather than waste, and it is amazing how much we can recycle. The cost comes down the more you recycle.

"The long-term situation has to be to reduce how much waste we produce and recycle as much as possible. Other countries are achieving 70 per cent recycling in Europe."

SEPA's waste and resources unit manager, John Ferguson, said: "It's encouraging to see that Scotland is reducing the waste we send to landfill.

"But we still have a long way to go meet future targets."


SCOTLAND could run out of landfill space if it continues to dump at the same rate. The country has the capacity to dump another 88 million more tonnes of waste. New figures from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), show it is currently getting through that at almost 2.5 million tonnes per year.

Environment minister Mike Russell said: "This is why we have got to stop misusing our resources. Landfill is an expression of failure. If waste goes to landfill we have failed to get anything out of it."

He said this could be achieved by an increase in recycling and added that energy from waste projects had a role to play - but could not be the major driver.

Failure to meet the EU landfill targets could result in the UK government being hit with fines running into millions.