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Scottish councils recycle more but fail to meet target

Recycling rates in Scotland have improved, but only a third of councils have reached a 50% recycling objective set by the Scottish Government, latest figures have revealed.

Some 42.2% of waste collected by Scottish local authorities was recycled or composted in 2013, up one percentage point on 2012, according to data released from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

However, as in 2012, only nine councils met the aspirational 50% target included in Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan, namely Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, Moray, North Ayrshire, Perth & Kinross, and Stirling.

“These local authorities are showing what can be achieved and are a good example to the others who still have more work to do,” said environment secretary Richard Lochhead.

Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils were among the worst performers at 26.9% and 38.1%, respectively.

Lochhead said the Scottish Government made “no apologies for being ambitious” in its recycling objectives.

“It’s important that the targets we set should be genuinely challenging and we expect all council areas to show willingness to prioritise recycling.”

The environment secretary said he expected improvements in recycling rates to result from the waste regulations that came into force this year. They mandate councils to provide recycling services to all households and to collect food waste separately.

He added that he would not rule out the introduction of statutory targets if further progress was not made.

Scottish local authorities have recycled less than their Welsh and English counterparts, which hit 52.5% and 44.1%, respectively, in 2012, according to the latest data that Defra has reported to the European Union.

However, Lochhead noted that Scotland has shown the most rapid increase in recycling in recent years, with rates rising 10 percentage points since 2007.

Steve Lee, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management:

“The figures show that Scotland has continued to make progress on recycling and the new regulations that came into force at the beginning of this year should provide additional momentum. The target to recycle 50% by 2013 was extremely ambitious, particularly in light of the fact that recycling is stalling in some other parts of the UK.

The important thing is that the Scottish Government has put in place a very clear framework and targeted support to help local authorities, and these measures will help to support greater recycling in the future.”

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