Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Councils to hit recycling target

Cans for recycling
Most councils hit 40% recycling between July-September 2009

The majority of Scottish councils are on target to meet a key recycling target, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

The Scottish government has set local authorities the goal of recycling 40% of their waste by the end of 2010.

Sepa said its figures showed 18 of Scotland's 32 councils have already met the target.

Environmental groups welcomed the news but said more had to be done to reduce waste in the first place.

The latest statistics showed that, between October 2008 and September 2009, a total of 35.9% of all municipal solid waste - 1,167,372 tonnes of rubbish - was either recycled or composted.

The figures also revealed a recycling rate of 39% for July to September last year.

It is a fantastic achievement for some local authorities to be now recycling nearly half of their waste
Richard Lochhead
Environment minister

During that three-month period, 18 of Scotland`s 32 councils exceeded the goal of recycling more than 40% of their waste.

But the amount of waste recycled varied from 21.8% in the Shetland Islands to 51.2% in Clackmannanshire.

Environment minister Richard Lochhead said an additional £7m would be handed out to help the 14 under-achieving local authorities to meet the target.

He added: "Before devolution, Scotland was almost wholly dependent on landfill, an out-of-sight and out-of-mind approach that was unsustainable and damaging to the environment.

"With this in mind, it is a fantastic achievement for some local authorities to be now recycling nearly half of their waste.

"These figures are testament to the hard work of households, businesses and the public sector.

"Together we can preserve Scotland's world-wide reputation for unspoilt, unpolluted landscapes and tackle the threat of climate change."

'Greater challenges'

Scottish government is planning a nationwide campaign to "get everyone in the recycling habit", Mr Lochhead said.

Kenny Boag, Sepa's national waste policy unit manager, said the rise in the recycling rate was "very encouraging".

But he warned: "Even greater challenges lie ahead and we must all accept that this will require new and additional services, facilities and, most importantly, changes to our lifestyles so we may further prevent, reuse and recycle our waste in Scotland."

Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at environmental charity WWF Scotland, said it was "great" many councils had already reached the target of recycling 40% of household waste.

He added: "Whilst Scotland's progress in household recycling is encouraging, achieving a zero waste Scotland requires much greater progress in curbing the amount of waste we generate in the first place and addressing waste from industry."

Rosiaina Browning from Friends of the Earth welcomed the rise in recycling but she added that reducing rubbish in the first place was the key to change.

She said: "In Scotland we still throw out enough waste to fill Murrayfield rugby stadium every day. Recycling levels may be rising, but so too is the total amount of waste we produce.

"The next step is to help make it easier for people to avoid waste, such as excess packaging, junk mail and left-over food. "

Councils have been given targets of recycling 50% their waste by 2013, 60% by 2020 and 70% by 2025.

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