The legacy of Scottish Borders Council’s failure to develop a modern waste treatment facility and the withdrawal of garden waste collections in April last year has been revealed.
Figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) show that, on mainland Scotland, only Argyll and Bute and Dundee City recycled less of their waste than SBC in 2014 while only in Glasgow was a higher percentage of rubbish sent to landfill.
Out of 49,952 tonnes of waste generated in the region last year, 18,345 tonnes (36.7%) were recycled while 30,666 tonnes (61.4%) were landfilled. The percentage going to landfill has thus increased from the 56.5% recorded in 2013 when 51,242 tonnes of waste were generated. Over the same 12 months, the proportion being recycled fell from 41.3%.
Compared to four years ago, the trends are even more marked with the percentage of waste going to landfill up by 8.1% and recycling performance down by 9.6%.
All this comes against a background of Scottish Government targets which demand that, by 2025, 70% of all waste is recycled and a maximum of 5% goes to landfill.
Before that, a ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill will come into force in 2021.
Responding to the SEPA figures, a spokesperson for SBC said: “The council is currently developing a waste management plan which aims to deliver a service which is fit for purpose, financially sustainable and reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
“A decrease in recycling was predominantly due to the removal of the garden waste collections, although it should be noted the removal of this service delivers a saving of £450,000 per annum to the council.
“It is also important to recognise the council has seen the tonnage of waste it manages drop by 1,290 tonnes from 2013 to 2014, significantly reducing the volume requiring collection and treatment by the council.
“In August the council agreed to close its landfill site at Easter Langlee in 2017 and develop a waste transfer station in its place.
“This will allow waste to be diverted from landfill and assist the council in complying with the 2021 landfill ban and assist in working towards national and European targets.”