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Local authority recycling charter in Scotland

A household recycling charter for local authorities has been announced by the Scottish environment secretary.

Richard Lochhead

Speaking at the annual CIWM/ESA/RA conference, Richard Lochhead, left, said that the voluntary agreement would bring greater consistency to collections across the country.

“The charter will reflect a commitment from local government to adhere to a set of principles on the design, operation and communication of services and policies on issues such as contamination,” he said.

The charter is run by the Zero Waste Taskforce, a joint initiative between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

Lochhead hopes that the quality of recyclates collected will also be improved.

“Presently there is a variety of systems for collecting paper, glass, plastics, food waste and general waste across Scotland – you can go from one local authority to the bordering one and find different systems,” he said.

“While this is often the case for sound local reasons, as people move between different parts of Scotland it can lead to materials becoming contaminated and losing value, fetching lower prices, and simultaneously increasing the costs to councils for sorting and cleaning.”

Stephen Hagan, Cosla’s spokesperson for sustainability, said the charter would provide financial benefits over the current systems while promoting local economic development and investment.

“The circular economy has the potential to create jobs and economic development opportunities throughout Scotland, through keeping valuable resources in use for as long as possible,” he added.

“If, by changing our collection systems when they are up for renewal in the next decade, we can help to promote and support this approach, then that to me is councils talking and acting with common sense.”

Last week, the Scottish Government announced the Community Empowerment Act which would give communities more powers over their facilities and services, with Zero Waste Scotland saying that this could extend to the management of recycling.

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