The strong dependence on landfill for waste management in Scotland is not sustainable since it involves the depletion of both renewable and finite natural resources. In addition, extracting and processing raw materials may consume large quantities of energy, release pollutants and destroy landscapes and ecosystems. Reducing, re-using and recovering waste are key to sustainable development and Zero Waste objectives.
Local authority collected (LAC) municipal waste arisings rose from 3.21 million tonnes in 2000/1 to 3.44 million tonnes in 2006/07, before falling to 3.14 million tonnes in 2010/11. Over the same period the percentage of LAC municipal waste recycled or composted rose from 4.5% to 38.2%. This reflects more than an eight-fold increase in the amount of material recycled. Figures for the first three quarters of 2011/12 indicate that the recycling rate has increased relative to 2010/11.
The National Waste Plan set a target of stopping growth in municipal waste by 2010. In 2008, the Scottish Government also set targets to increase the amount of municipal waste being recycled or composted to 40% by 2010, 50% by 2013, 60% by 2020 and 70% by 2025.
These targets have been included in the Zero Waste Plan issued in 2010, but have been revised to apply to waste collected from households. This was accompanied by a new approach to assessing recycling rates based upon carbon. Future assessments of recycling rates will include a carbon measure, thereby helping to target recycling efforts at those materials with the highest environmental impacts. The Zero Waste plan also established a target to achieve a 70% recycling rate and 5% landfill rate by 2025 for all wastes, not just municipal waste.
Email: Sandy McPhee
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