Repeated failures to hit recycling targets in Perth and Kinross have cost the taxpayer around £1 million over the last three years.
That is according to SNP councillor Mike Williamson, who is highlighting falling recycling rates at the local authority.
Recycling rates have dropped from 52.5% in 2019/20 to only 47.4% during the last financial year.
That is against a target of 60%. That benchmark rises to 65% in 2022, putting further pressure on the local authority.
Highland Perthshire councillor Mr Williamson said: “This must be extremely embarrassing for the Conservative administration.
“They have failed to demonstrate they are using public funds wisely. Yet they are prepared to sit back and allow up to £1 million to haemorrhage from council funds.”
Mr Williamson came to the £1 million figure after calculating the extra cost of sending waste to landfill. He also added ‘financial penalties’ for contaminated waste in the region’s blue recycling bins.
He suggested the failure was embarrassing on both cost and environmental grounds.
“In terms of climate action, this is an area that must be addressed urgently.”
Only three of the council’s 51 ‘performance indicators’ relate to the climate, he added.
“That is far too few, but recycling is one of them. And it is quite clear that the council has failed to meet its objectives here.
“Not just by a narrow margin, but by an enormous gap.”
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Environment convener Angus Forbes, Conservative, said the Scottish Government had also missed its national recycling targets for the previous three years.
He said: “I am amazed that any SNP politician would be willing to stick their heads above the parapet and criticise any local authority given the Scottish Government’s abject failure in this area.
“The SNP/Green coalition of chaos have nothing to be proud of when it comes to the environment.”
The amount of municipal waste collected that is recycled or composted has fallen back in the area over the last three years.
The figure rose from 51.4% in 2018/19 to 52.5% in 2020/21. It then fell back to 47.4% in the last financial year.
A Perth and Kinross council spokesperson suggested the performance figures were symptomatic of a national problem.
She said “changes in household behaviours” had resulted in more household waste and increased contamination of recyclable materials.
The council also closed recycling centres during lockdown.
She said: “The Perth & Kinross Council area has been for many years a high performer in terms of recycling and diversion of waste from landfill.
“While there has been a dip in recycling levels in 2020/21, this is primarily as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This has been – and continues to be – a national issue affecting the recycling performance of every local authority across the UK.”