Less than half of Scottish waste recycled and rates lowest since 2013

LESS than half of Scotland’s household waste was recycled last year.

Official figures have revealed that just 42 per cent of rubbish was sent to recycling in 2020 – around 1.02m tonnes.

The statistics show that the proportion of Scotland’s recycled waste has also fallen in the last year, down around 2.9% compared to 2019, and is the lowest level since 2013.

Scottish Labour has accused the SNP and the Scottish Greens of “warm words” but a failure to take action to support households to recycle their waste, saying environmental promises made by the government are “not worth the paper they’re written on”.

The statistics from SEPA also show that recycling rates have dropped in 26 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities and that Scotland’s recycling rate is trailing behind the other home nations.

However the data also revealed a positive picture for landfill rates, with 660,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill in 2020 – a 13% reduction from the previous year. It is the ninth consecutive decrease in the amount of waste landfilled.

HeraldScotland: Colin Smyth MSPColin Smyth MSP

Scottish Labour environment spokesman Colin Smyth said: “The SNP-Green government talk a good game on the environment, but the statistics tell a very different story.

“The climate crisis is happening right now but this government is failing to support the people of Scotland in their efforts.

“It’s all too clear that the environmental promises of the SNP-Green government are not worth the paper that they are written on.

“In place of SNP-Green neglect, failure and spin, Scottish Labour will continue to fight for a greener future for Scotland.”

READ MORE: The best and worst council performers as Scotland fails to reach 60% household waste recycling target

According to SEPA, the pandemic may have impacted the level of waste people are recycling.

Their latest report states: “Recycling has likely been impacted by the COVID 19 lockdown and other restrictions, with both the amount of waste recycled and the waste recycling rate being the lowest recorded since 2013.

“There was a reduction in the recycling of some material categories such as construction and soils (26,000 tonnes, 14.8%) and in the composting of vegetal wastes (17,000 tonnes, 5.7%), but an increase in the recycling for other materials such as glass wastes (15,000 tonnes, 14.4%) and plastic wastes (8.3%, 5,000 tonnes).”

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “We have recently provided £20 million of support for local authorities to help them increase recycling and cut emissions. This is the beginning of one of the biggest investments in recycling in Scotland in a generation.

“We also want to see materials remain in use for as long as possible before they are recycled and will be introducing an ambitious Circular Economy Bill to help make that happen.”

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