THE number of householders who are recycling has fallen to its lowest level in seven years, despite millions of pounds being spent on 'green' initiatives.

The figures for 2015 show a decline in families who are separating their waste - the lowest proportion since 2008.

They also show a fall in two categories of recycling - glass and metal being separated for re-use - while one - newspapers and magazine, cardboard and paper - is static, and only recycling of plastic bottles has improved.

It has sparked claims that the goodwill of households may be reaching exhaustion as they face fewer bin collections and the need to separate rubbish into increasing numbers of piles.

Last month the SNP - which has set up a quango Zero Waste Scotland with a budget of £24 million this year - launched a ‘circular economy’ consultation to "increase the volume and quality of materials recycled" in Scotland.

But with households having to keep up to seven different types of bins at their properties and waiting up to four weeks to have their bins emptied, the new figures suggest a drop in the proportion of households who are recycling at all.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone, who is the party's housing spokesman, said: "The Scottish Government has repeatedly missed its targets on recycling.

"And what's worse, people across Scotland are enduring a massively reduced bin collection service as a result of this supposedly green initiative.

"The public will fully expect ministers to explain why, with fewer collections, are these statistics not improving?"

The Waste Recycling Behaviour: 2000-2014 section, of the Key Scottish Environment Statistics for 2015, set out the percentage of households surveyed who reported recycling waste items in the past month.

It reported: "Data for 2014 suggests a slight decline in recycling rate for some material types, but an increase for reported recycling of plastic bottles."

The figure shows a drop in two areas out of four areas, glass bottles and jars - down to 75 per cent in 2014 from 78 per cent in 2011- the last date surveyed; metal cans had fallen from 78 per cent in 2011 to 77 per cent in 2014; newspapers and magazine, cardboard and paper recycling has stayed static at 84 per cent.

Only collection of bottles had improved from 75 per cent in 2011 to 80 per cent in 2014.

But overall it showed that 87 per cent of households were actively take part in recycling, the lowest figure since 2008.

Eben Wilson, director of TaxpayerScotland, said: “Clearly we need to preserve a clean country and not waste resources, but recycling at high cost may have a more adverse environmental impact than an expensive taxpayer funded effort.

“They have grand designs for zero waste but it seems to be slipping back. “

Recycling has meant extra costs, with Dumfries and Galloway Council holding a special meeting after a new waste collection scheme in Wigtownshire cost £435,000 over forecast.

Labour-run Fife Council became the first local authority in the UK to announce a trial of monthly bin pick-ups. Other Scottish councils have introduced a three-weekly system.

It means food scraps and rubbish including soiled nappies, pet waste, used kitchen towels and sanitary products will be left to rot for weeks.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was "committed to helping people to reduce waste through reuse and recycling".

He added: Through the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, we have transformed recycling services to households and businesses.

“We are helping local authorities to develop a Household Recycling Charter to improve consistency of practices around Scotland and are investing £24m in 2015-16 through Zero Waste Scotland to deliver zero waste and circular economy priorities – this is a total of around £120m since 2011-12.

“We know there is more we can do and our consultation on creating a more circular economy was launched on 20 August 2015, and runs to 30 October 2015.

“The Waste Recycling Behaviour: 2000-2014 figures are self-reported. While they are useful, we measure progress towards Scotland's recycling targets using the more robust annual household recycling figures.”