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Scottish Councils Reach 50% Recycling Target

The amount of rubbish being sent to landfill in Scotland has fallen below the 50% mark for the first time ever, recently released figures have shown. Household waste of almost 2.5 million tonnes was generated during 2014, an increase of 1.9% on the previous year.

Scotland Reaches EU’s 50% target

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has released the figures, which show that 49.3% of that rubbish was sent to landfill, down from 53.5% in 2013. This finally puts them below the key 50% target which has been set by the EU.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the drop was a “significant milestone”. “In 2007, almost two-thirds of Scotland's household waste ended up in landfill, so today's figures are great news for the environment and highlight the progress being made,” he said.

The figures released by Sepa show that the proportion of rubbish which was recycled increased slightly, rising from 42.2% in 2013 to 42.8% in 2014. They also showed that the rates varied between different areas of the country, with twenty of Scotland’s 32 councils failing to recycle 50% of their waste.

The Shetland islands had a recycling rate of 9%, which is not much when compared with the 56.8% rate achieved in Inverclyde. However Shetland diverts almost 70% of its waste away from landfill, showing that the figures are not as black and white as they seem. Waste diverted from landfill which hasn’t been recycled usually involves methods such as incineration or composting.

There are also variations in the amount of waste which each council sent to landfill, ranging from 6.9% in Dundee to 73.4% in Glasgow. Mr Lochhead said that the 12 councils which met or exceeded the 50% recycling target, or substantially improved their performance, were to be “congratulated”. “They have set a benchmark and other authorities must now follow that lead,” he said.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “It's great that our national recycling rate continues to rise and that our reliance on landfill is at an all-time low. “The amount of food waste being recycled has doubled since 2011, showing that many householders have embraced the addition of food waste recycling to their collection services.”

The rest of the UK are still trying to achieve the 50% rate set out by the EU, despite a series of cuts to services over recent years. Currently many of the figures from around the country are stuck in the mid-40’s, with little movement to reach the goal. However new schemes are being introduced such as less frequent landfill collections to help reach the target.

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