Majority of Scottish councils miss 50% recycling target

recycling symbol
Image caption Only nine Scottish councils met a Scottish government target of recycling more than 50% of their household waste in 2012

Less than a third of councils in Scotland met the national target to recycle half of their household waste in 2012, new figures show.

Nine local authorities recycled more than 50% of their waste, while the remaining 23 failed to meet a target to recycle half of all waste by 2013.

Clackmannanshire recycled the most, at more than 55%. Shetland Council was bottom of the table, at just 13.5%.

The Scottish government said speeding up progress on waste was a priority.

Clackmannanshire was also among the most improved councils, recycling 7% more waste than in 2011, while Inverclyde and Moray upped their recycling by 9% and 7% respectively to meet the 50% target.

East Renfrewshire, Fife and North Ayrshire were the three other local authorities to meet the target.

Some areas, including Orkney, Shetland, the Borders and Renfrewshire, actually recycled less in 2012 than the year before.

The figures, released by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, showed that households recycled 41.2% of their waste on average in 2012, up 1.1% on the previous year, with one year to go to meet the 2013 target.

The Scottish government's long-term aim is to recycle 70% of Scotland's waste by 2025.

Food waste

Meanwhile, new figures released today by Zero Waste Scotland, the organisation charged with delivering the government's recycling strategy, showed that more than a million households now have access to a food waste collection service, more than double the number that had the facility a year ago.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Today's figures show that over half of Scotland's local authorities are above the national recycling average, with nine already hitting the 50% target - two more than last year. We can also see that Scottish households produced 100,000 tonnes less waste than last year.

"Building on and accelerating this progress is a priority for the Scottish government, as it is for local authorities, and that is why we've invested £20m to help local authorities roll out food waste collections to households across the country.

"Close to half a million households have received a new food waste service already this year, meaning one million households in Scotland now have a service to collect and recycle their food waste. The impact of this investment will be seen in next year's figures.

"The Scottish government will continue to seek the advice of Zero Waste Scotland on what other initiatives can be taken forward to improve Scotland's recycling performance, including a national deposit-return scheme."

Councillor Stephen Hagan, spokesman for the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities on waste issues, defended the performance of councils. He said: "The statistics show that communities across Scotland are continuing to reduce waste, and that recycling is continuing to increase.

"Working with their communities over the last decade, councils have achieved an increase in the national recycling rate from 5% to over 40%."

However, Green MSP Alison Johnstone said more needed to be done to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place.

She said: "Think of all the unnecessary packing that comes with your shopping. We are paying for this rubbish twice, firstly in the products we buy and secondly in our council tax as councils are paying millions in landfill tax.

"We need to shift the cost of this problem onto the manufacturers so they produce products that can be easily recycled, which in turn creates more jobs.

"Four big supermarket chains account for three-quarters of our grocery shopping. These profitable businesses should be doing more to minimise waste."

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