Scottish councils miss 2013 recycling target

More than two thirds of Scotland’s councils fell short of the Scottish Government target to recycle 50% of household waste by 2013, according to figures published today (September 29).

The figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) indicate that a total of 42.2% of the country’s household waste was sent for composting or recycling during 2013, just under 8% shy of the aspirational target set by the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan.

Nine of Scotland's 32 authorities recycled more than 50% of their waste in 2013
Nine of Scotland’s 32 authorities recycled more than 50% of their waste in 2013

Under the Plan, which was published in 2010, councils were tasked with recycling, composting or reusing 50% of waste from households by 2013, a figure that is set to rise to 70% by 2025. So far, only nine of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have surpassed the 50% recycling goal.

Failure to meet the target will come as little surprise, with the Scottish Conservative Party warning more than 18 months ago that the targets were ‘unachievable’ (see letsrecycle.com story) but the Scottish Government has remained upbeat about improvements in recycling rates over the last decade and prospects of meeting future targets.

‘No apologies’

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said that the Scottish Government “would make no apologies” for the ambition set in the Zero Waste Plan, and called for further improvements in future.

He said: “It’s good to see nine local authorities exceeding 50% recycling, and I also want to congratulate those who have made significant improvements on their 2012 performance. These local authorities are showing what can be achieved and are a good example to the others who still have more work to do.

“The Scottish Government makes no apologies for being ambitious in this area. It’s important that the targets we set should be genuinely challenging and we expect all council areas to show willingness to prioritise recycling.”

UK picture

Scotland is still somewhat lagging behind the recycling rates recorded by local authorities in Wales – where 52.5% of household waste was recycled in 2012 – and England, which recorded a 44.2% household recycling rate in 2013.

However, the country’s recycling rate is improving at a greater velocity than in neighbouring England, which recorded an increase of just 0.1% between 2012 and 2013 (see letsrecycle.com), with Scotland’s rate improving by one percentage point between 2012 and 2013.

Today’s official figures show that a total of 1,018,208 tonnes of household waste was recycled or composted across 2013, with 1,290,829 tonnes (53.5%) sent to landfill.

On an individual local authority level, Clackmannanshire tabled the best performance across the year, with a recycling rate of 59.5%, followed by North Ayrshire (56.1%) and Fife (55.9%) councils. The Shetland Islands (12.2%) and Glasgow City (26.9%) councils recorded Scotland’s lowest recycling rates.

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