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Milestone as household landfill falls below 50%

Published: 30 Sep 2015 09:41

Environment Secretary welcomes progress but calls for further action.

Less than half of Scotland's household waste was sent to landfill in 2014 – the first time it's ever dipped below the 50 per cent mark.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has hailed the achievement as a 'significant milestone' but made clear that further improvements are needed from councils to meet recycling targets.

New figures published today by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also show a slight increase in Scotland's recycling rate – reaching 42.8 per cent in 2014 – whilst the total amount of household waste generated that year was 2.46 million tonnes. That's a drop of 18 per cent since 2007 when 3 million tonnes of household waste were generated.

And although 2014 saw more councils recycling the majority of their household waste, less than half of local authorities managed to achieve 50 per cent.

The Environment Secretary said:

"For the first time, Scotland has sent less than half of its household waste to landfill - a significant milestone as we journey to becoming a zero waste nation. 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.

"The 12 of Scotland's 32 councils that have met or exceeded 50 per cent recycling, and those that have substantially improved their performance, are to be congratulated. They have set a benchmark and other authorities must now follow that lead.

"The Household Recycling Charter the Scottish Government is working with local authorities to develop should help achieve this. Bringing in consistent practices across Scotland should also make it easier and less confusing for people to recycle potentially valuable materials including paper, card, glass, plastics and food waste.

"We are also consulting on how best to make the most of valuable materials by creating a more circular economy."

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, 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. Over 60 per cent of households now have access to food waste recycling, thanks to our Food Waste Programme which supported local authorities to make the changes.

"While the trends show that a change in mind set is taking hold, and we are recognising that material we once thought of as waste has value as a resource which can create economic opportunity for Scotland, there's still more to be done. Sustaining our good recycling habits, and encouraging others to take them up, is a commitment we can all easily make, with high rewards waiting for Scotland – both economically and environmentally – if we do."

Notes to editors

2014 Household Waste Statistics have today been published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

They show the percentage of household waste recycled in 2014 was 42.8 per cent. However, the figures have been calculated using new methodology which does not include lower quality compost. Had lower quality compost been included, the recycling rate for 2014 would have been 43.6 per cent.

The national recycling rate in 2013 – which included lower quality compost - was 42.2 per cent in 2013 and just 32.2 per cent in 2007.

The Scottish Government is committed to helping people to reduce waste through reuse and recycling. Through the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, we have transformed recycling services to households and businesses. We are helping local authorities to develop a Household Recycling Charter to improve consistency of practices around Scotland and are investing £24m in 2015-16 through Zero Waste Scotland to deliver zero waste and circular economy priorities – this is a total of around £120m since 2011-12.

The Scottish Government consultation on the circular economy was launched on 20 August 2015, and runs to 30 October 2015: