Waste and Recycling

52% of household waste in Switzerland is recycled, compared with 8% in Scotland. The average tonne of household waste contains materials worth about £400 – incinerating a tonne of waste generates only £15 worth of electricity.

10 billion plastic bags are given away in the UK each year. They take on average 10 years to degrade. There has been a 90% reduction in plastic bag purchase since the introduction in Ireland of a plastic bag tax.

Scotland is continuing to use resources at a faster rate than they can be replaced. This undermines the ability of future generations of Scots to enjoy these resources and also reduces our current quality of life. The Scottish Green Party believes that, as a society, we need to reduce the quantity of the earth’s resources we consume. However, much of our current resource use is wasteful and unduly destructive. Therefore we must seek to increase re-use and recycling as part of a comprehensive strategy of using natural resources in a sensitive and responsible manner. Our record so far in Scotland is very poor and this must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

To achieve this, there must be a fundamental change in how we understand resources and their use. This will require the Scottish Executive to reward good practice as well as providing the opportunities for individuals and businesses to put into action the desire for greater opportunities to recycle and re-use that is frequently expressed by many Scots. Disposal of waste through landfills and incineration causes serious health and pollution problems as well as being very wasteful. Greens also reject the ‘quick fix’ approach of using incineration in any form to dispose of household waste.

Green MSPs will work for the following:

  • We will develop a national resource use strategy for Scotland, with a ‘zero waste’ approach at its core. The zero waste approach is currently being pioneered in New Zealand and various US states, and would involve reducing the amount of waste that is dumped in landfill sites or incinerated in Scotland by half every 5 years. By 2008 landfill and incineration would decrease by 50%, by 75% by 2013, and so on. With this signalling to industry of the direction of future resource use, organisations will have time to adapt their current manufacturing to avoid the generation of unrecyclable or unre-usable products. What we call waste today will in future be regarded as a valuable resource.

  • We will introduce financial penalties, such as a plastic bag tax, to discourage wasteful use of resources. Such resource taxes could help to pay for recycling schemes without government subsidy. This would be coupled with a Scottish-specific waste-disposal tax, over and above the existing landfill tax.

  • We will support the development of community recycling trusts, owned and managed by local people, supported by local authorities and the Scottish Executive. These trusts would develop locally appropriate methods of recycling, re-using and composting local waste. They would be paid for the material they collect from the revenue generated by the waste disposal tax and the financial penalties mentioned above. Any profit would be ploughed back into community facilities and events.

  • We will launch a major offensive on litter. Our policies on packaging will reduce problems at source. Within each council we will appoint a dedicated officer whose sole responsibility will be to put together prosecution cases for fly-tipping. We will double the number of street bins and collection rates. We will complement fines for littering with community service programmes, involving street, river and canal clean-ups.

  • .e will introduce a national programme of kerbside recycling. This is needed if Scotland is to remove itself from the bottom of Europe’s recycling league. Until such a scheme is in place, the Scottish Green Party will work for easy access, with or without a car, to local recycling sites.

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Scottish Green Party, PO Box 14080, Edinburgh EH10 6YG
Tel / Fax: 0131 478 7896
e-mail: info@scottishgreens.org.uk