Scotland lagging behind the rest of the UK on recycling

plastic pollution

Scottish ministers and councils have come under fire after official figures revealed that Scotland is recycling less household waste than England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The waste industry and environmental groups are worried that Scotland could fail to meet its target to recycle half of all household waste by 2020. They are calling for more action to boost recycling by national and local governments.

The latest waste statistics from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show that in 2016 Scotland recycled 42.8 per cent of household waste. This compared to 43 per cent in Northern Ireland, 44.9 per cent in England and 57.3 per cent in Wales.

According to figures from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), the worst recycler in mainland Scotland was Glasgow, which only managed to recycle a quarter of its waste in 2016. Dundee, Aberdeen, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute and island authorities also had low recycling rates.

Scotland has been criticised for lagging behind the rest of the UK by The Furniture Group, which recycles mattresses. “Britain is sleepwalking into a waste crisis, with Scotland the worst offender when it comes to recycling,” it warned.

“What is evident in Wales is a clear cooperation between the government and the people at the coalface of the waste and recycling industry who are tackling these issues daily,” said the company’s managing director, Nick Oettinger.

“The same needs to happen in Scotland and England if we’re serious about achieving our targets of both 50 per cent recycling by 2020 and zero avoidable waste to landfill by 2050.”

Missed Targets

The Furniture Group said it recycled 7,000 mattresses a week. But it pointed out that over seven million still go to landfill every year in the UK – enough to fill Wembley Stadium five times over.

The Environmental Services Association, which represents the waste industry trade, also warned that recycling targets were in danger of being missed. “There is no doubt that if we want to be world leaders in recycling, then we will have to do a lot more,” said the association’s executive director, Jacob Hayler.

“Wales has shown that it is possible to drive domestic recycling rates higher with clear government support and increased funding for councils to put in place the additional services required.”

He called for more funding for local authorities and more policy support for the use of recycled materials. “We need much stronger action across all UK administrations to underpin the use of recycled materials in end products and packaging,” he argued.

Friends of the Earth Scotland urged Scotland “to get its act together” to meet recycling targets. “While some local authorities are leading the way with recycling, others are shamefully behind with only a quarter of household waste recycled in Glasgow,” said the environmental group’s head of campaigns, Mary Church.

Read the full article Scotland lagging behind the rest of the UK on recycling at The Ferret.

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