Commentary

Waste items recycled by households by local authority: 2003-2004 -2011

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Background

The EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) requires a reduction in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) sent to landfill. By 2010, only 75% of BMW should go to landfill, 50% by 2013 and 35% by 2020, compared to a 1995 baseline(2). The Scottish Government has laid down that by 2010 40% of municipal waste should be recycled-composted; 50% by 2013; 60% by 2020 and 70% by 2025. The Landfill tax was introduced in 1996, with an initial rate of £7 per tonne for active waste (which contains some biodegradable waste), in order to discourage the disposal of waste to landfill. The rate of landfill tax for active waste in 2007/8 is £24 per tonne. It will rise by £8 each year until at least 2010/2011.

The Scottish Household Survey is designed to provide accurate, up-to-date information about the characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals on a range of issues. The survey commenced in February 1999. Over the first four years it achieved a sample of approximately 62,000 households collected continuously. Statistically reliable results are available for Local Authorities, regardless of size, every 2 years (e.g. 2003-2004, 2005-2006).

Before 2003(3), adults were asked which of certain waste items (Glass Bottles, Newspapers/Magazines/Paper/Cardboard, Plastic and Metal Cans) they had recycled from home in the past month. From Quarter 2 in 2003 the same question was asked of households.

Trends

Between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010 there has been an increase in the percentage of households who recycled an item in the past month in each local authority. The local authority with the highest percentage point increase between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010 is Eilean Siar which increased from 32% of households surveyed reporting that they had recycled one or more of the specified items in the last month to 84%. In 2009-2010 over 80% of households surveyed reported that they had recycled newspaper/magazines/paper/cardboard in the past month compared to 50% in 2003-2004. The percentages of households reporting recycling glass bottles and jars was 75% in 2009-2010 and the percentage reporting recycling metal cans and plastic bottles were both just over 70% compared to just under 20% in 2003-2004.

Recycling rates in more rural areas and cities tend to be slightly lower due to the difficulty of providing kerbside recycling facilities to outlying properties and to those in multilevel properties. Not all local authorities provide kerbside collection for each of these materials. Thus while over 90% of households in Moray report recycling glass bottles and jars, newspaper etc and metal cans, only 44% report recycling plastic bottles.

References

(1) Assuming a derogation to postpone the targets for 4 years is used.

(2) SE/SEPA (2003) National Waste Plan

(3) The 2003 data used is from quarters 2, 3 and 4 only.