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Scotland faces "challenging" year to reach 40% recycling target

Scotland’s 40% recycling and composting target for 2010 “will be challenging”, according to a report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The annual publication called Waste Data Digest 10: Key facts and trends shows that Scotland exceeded its 30% recycling and composting target set for 2008 by 4.3%. However, data collected from local authorities shows that the increase in recycling and composting is slowing, which may affect Scotland’s ability to reach a 40% recycling rate by the end of 2010.

Scotland adopted a ‘zero waste‘ policy, setting targets defining the percentage of household waste that should be recycled, incinerated with energy recovery and landfilled. The Scottish government expects 50% recycling by 2013 and 60% recycling by 2020.

SEPA head of environmental quality Martin Marsden  said: “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.”

However, Scotland is on target to achieve zero growth in municipal waste by the end of 2010, as results showed local authorities in 2008-2009 handled 3.29m tonnes of municipal waste – the lowest amount in the last five years. Over this period there is a significant contrast between household waste - which has increased by 0.9% annually – and commercial waste which decreased by 11%. It is thought this commercial waste rate may be due to genuine a reduction in waste created by businesses or a reduction in the number of businesses local authorities collect from.

Business waste arisings, made up from commercial and industrial waste, fell overall by 13% (1.18m tonnes) between 2004 and 2008. Construction and demolition waste arisings fell in 2008 (8.63m tonnes) against the previous year’s figure (9.44m tonnes), however arisings since 2004 continue to vary with no visible trends. Construction and demolition waste makes up 45% of all Scotland’s controlled waste arisings, which totalled 19.51m tonnes in 2008– a fall from 2007 (more than 20m tonnes). 

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