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Waste firms seek 'mature debate' in Scotland

The waste management industry in Scotland has called for “a mature debate” after Conservatives accused the government in Edinburgh of setting “unachievable” recycling targets.

The Scottish Environmental Services Association (SESA) said such targets were “too important to become a political football” for the main parties.

According to figures released in December, Scotland’s local authorities recycled 40.1% of the household waste they collected in 2011 with the target for 2013 being 50%.

This prompted the Scottish Conservative environment spokesman Jamie McGrigor to say: “There is nothing wrong with ambitious recycling targets, but it seems the majority of councils simply don’t have the resources to make them happen. Instead of setting unachievable targets, the SNP should be providing realistic and practical help to local authorities.”

Richard Lochhead

In reponse, environment secretary Richard Lochhead, left, said the country had made ‘significant progress’ in improving recycling rates and he expected them to improve further.

SESA policy executive Stephen Freeland, said: “Recycling targets are too important to become a political football, and Scotland’s waste industry is committed to working with the Scottish Government and local authorities to deliver the Zero Waste Plan”.

Freeland said the 50% target for 2013 looked “all the more challenging” after the 2011 figures were published.

“A mature debate over how to keep up the momentum of recent years is appropriate,” he said. “What is clear is that the 50% recycling target depends on significant private sector investment in modern waste management facilities.”

Freeland said action was particularly needed around procurement, planning and waste crime.

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