For a government that was intent on rolling out the troubled deposit return scheme as soon as possible, it is pretty staggering that Scotland is only able to recycle 5% of its own plastic waste.

The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets of recycling 70% of all waste and a ban on landfill refuse by 2025 – but this looks like an impossible task.

Data for 2022 shows that only 43.3% of waste was recycled. This has actually gotten worse than 2017 when the rate stood at 45.6%.

Read more: Revealed: Scotland only recycles 5 per cent of its own plastic waste

The bulk of Scotland’s plastic recycling was done in other parts of the UK, raising more questions about the ability of the Scottish Government to launch its own deposit return scheme and dramatically boost recycling rates.

But starkly, more of Scotland’s plastic waste was recycled in Europe (outside the UK) than was done internally.

The bulk of our plastic waste being transporting out of Scotland to be processed surely flies in the face of rolling out a true circular economy, as the Scottish Government is intending.

Read more: Warning SNP's key waste targets off track despite delayed DRS roll-out

Regulation around exporting waste is reserved to the UK Government, but it is clear that if Scotland had its own capacity to deal with it, it would not need transport out of Scotland to be processed.

It is not just plastic waste that Scotland is transporting away to be dealt with. In 2022, for the first time, more household waste was sent to incineration than landfill in Scotland – a worrying trend ahead of that landfill ban comes into force in 2025.

Read more: SNP-Greens accused of 'continued failure' as recycling progress stalls

Circular Economy Minister and Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has been handed an almost impossible job by her SNP colleagues in government – she can thank Nicola Sturgeon for that.

The Herald: Circular Economy Minister Lorna SlaterCircular Economy Minister Lorna Slater (Image: PA)

She had to take on the reins of the deposit return scheme, already in tatters after years of neglect from the SNP – and has launched her circular economy legislation to ensure materials are reused, recycled and essentially kept in circulation for as long as possible.

But without proper planning and capacity for recycling our own waste, the Scottish Government’s laudable recycling targets are likely to be trashed.