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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Waste reduction 'not on target'
Recycling
European directives aim to cut the amount of waste in landfills
Scotland could miss a crucial deadline for dealing with waste, according to the country's public sector watchdog.

The Accounts Commission for Scotland has called for "urgent" decisions by the Scottish Government on how to cut the amount of waste going to landfill.

It said Scotland was likely to miss EU targets for 2013 and this could bring huge financial penalties.

The government said it would be hosting a summit next month to discuss how best to move towards a zero waste society.

At present, 1.54 million tonnes of biodegradable waste goes to landfill. It must fall to 880,000 tonnes by 2013.

The report is the first national study of progress towards meeting EU landfill targets.

Municipal waste

Recycling rates have been rising, with about a quarter of municipal waste now being recycled compared to 7% in 2001.

However, councils will have to increase recycling rates and cut the amount of waste going to landfill in order to reach EU and Scottish Government targets.

The report said that because of the slow rate at which new facilities were being built to deal with waste, it was "unlikely" Scotland would meet the 2013 target.

It estimated that council spending on waste would have to rise to an estimated 580m in 2020, compared to about 351m last year.

One thing that must be avoided is any dash by councils to burn waste
Duncan McLaren
Friends of the Earth Scotland

Isabelle Low, deputy chairman of the Accounts Commission for Scotland, said: "Councils have done well so far to achieve a rapid rise in recycling rates.

"But we still need to recycle more and success in the next phase will be harder."

She added: "The best way forward is for councils to standardise recycling schemes and use Best Value reviews to ensure greater consistency and value for money."

Duncan McLaren, Friends of the Earth Scotland's chief executive, said: "This report confirms many of the concerns we have raised over the years about Scotland's rising waste mountain.

"The priority has to be waste prevention, something that this report only touches on.

"One thing that must be avoided is any dash by councils to burn waste. Incinerators create climate pollution, generate fewer jobs, and undermine waste prevention and recycling schemes."

Zero waste

Nanette Milne MSP, the Scottish Conservatives' environment spokeswoman, said: "Firstly, I was encouraged by the progress being made on recycling targets.

"However, there is a very inconsistent pattern of achievement between various different councils and that certainly needs to be addressed."

Mike Rumbles MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said that the SNP Government should work towards a zero waste Scotland.

He added: "A combination of waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting and residual waste treatment will help to avoid the unnecessary depletion of our natural resources."

Green MSP Robin Harper said that it was an "appalling situation".

He added: "The foot-dragging by local authorities and the previous executive over the last eight years is why we are here.

"There is still time for us to pull ourselves out of this mess in the next six years.

"We are putting valuable resources into the ground, instead of recycling and re-manufacturing from them."

'Work still needed'

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said the report referred to work which had mainly taken place under the previous administration.

He added: "Recycling rates in Scotland continue to improve and the latest SEPA figures show a welcome fall in the amount of waste set to landfill. We are working closely with local authorities and other relevant bodies to make further improvements.

"Of course I recognise that meeting the 2013 target is going to be challenging and a considerable amount of work still needs to be done. While we must get decisions on waste management right, we do not wish to delay any further, which is why we have called a waste summit for 3 October.

"The involvement of Local Authorities at the summit will provide an important means of mapping out future policy on recycling, waste prevention, incineration and ultimately moving towards a zero waste society."




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