By Will Date
Scotlands Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has defended the nations progress towards its 50% 2013 recycling target, after coming under fire from the Scottish Conservative Party.
Responding to claims by the Conservatives that the 2013 target is unachievable after Scotland achieved a 40.1% recycling rate in 2011, Mr Lochhead said that the country had already made significant progress in improving recycling rates and that he expected to see them improve further.
The target was first set out under the Zero Waste Plan, launched by the Scottish Government in June 2010, tasking councils with recycling, composting or reusing 50% of waste from households by 2013, a figure that is set to rise to 70% by 2025.
The Zero Waste Plan was established with a view to enabling Scotland to meet the requirements of the Waste Framework Directive, which sees EU Member States required to reach a 50% recycling rate by 2020.
However, according to the Scottish Conservative Party, unless councils significantly improve on recycling levels recorded by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for 2011, it is extremely unlikely that the 2013 target will be met.
According to the data published by SEPA in December, Scotlands household waste recycling rate increased just 1.5% on the previous year. Five local authorities: Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife and Stirling have already exceeded the 50% target, but the remaining 27 councils remain below the required level.
The results have been described as embarrassing by the Scottish Conservative Party, whose environment spokesman, Jamie McGrigor MSP, said: For a Scottish Government that will do just about anything to fulfil its green agenda, this is highly embarrassing.
There is nothing wrong with ambitious recycling targets, but it seems the majority of councils simply dont have the resources to make them happen.
Mr McGrigor also claimed that the Scottish Government had bullied councils into adopting alternate weekly waste collections, which he said was contributing to recycling rates in Edinburgh reaching just 33.4% in 2011.
He added: The Scottish Government has to get its approach right simply bullying councils and householders is not the answer.Instead of setting unachievable targets, the SNP should be providing realistic and practical help to local authorities.
By and large, people are happy to do their bit for recycling, but they wont tolerate a second class service like we have seen in Edinburgh.
Responding to the claims, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, said: Ten years ago Scotlands recycling rate was 5%. The recently published figures show that Scottish households now recycle over 40% of their waste with some areas achieving 55%. I expect to see the amount of recycling continue to increase as the new Zero Waste Regulations take effect.
This is a significant achievement by local authorities and households across Scotland, and a major milestone in Scotlands journey toward recycling 70% of all its waste by 2025.