20 September 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Scotland “reluctantly” pushes landfill ban to 2025

The Scottish government has admitted defeat in its aim to ban biodegradable municipal waste to landfill by 2021, announcing this week that the ban will be pushed back to 2025.

Scotland’s landfill ban will be pushed back to 2025

This comes amid concerns from local authorities and waste management companies that the country is ill-prepared to meet the 2021 deadline.

The ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill had been due to come into effect from January 2021 – but Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham revealed this week that “very reluctantly” she would be delaying full implementation of the ban until 2025.

In a letter sent to stakeholders, she said: “I have agreed that full enforcement should be delayed until 2025 for both public and private sectors managing wastes covered by the ban.

“I expect local authorities and the commercial sector to make further progress at pace before the legislation needed to extend the deadline is made.”

Ms Cunningham claimed the decision had been made due to concerns that Scottish residual waste would be sent across the border to be landfilled in England, as some local authorities and commercial operators had not made sufficient progress towards complying with the ban.

“I expect local authorities and the commercial sector to make further progress at pace before the legislation needed to extend the deadline is made.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Environment Secretary

She also noted that the revised legislation remained in line with broader advice given by the Committee on Climate Change on action needed to meet net zero emissions targets. The Environment Minister did note that many councils and operators had worked hard towards the target since it was introduced in 2012.


To support progress towards the extended 2025 deadline, Ms Cunningham set out initiatives to help local authorities to comply.

She explained: “I have concluded there should be a positive, centrally coordinated intervention to help the remaining local authorities procure solutions for the remaining tonnage of waste that provide the necessary contract length to support investment.

“Scottish landfill tax will be used to provide a further incentive to ensure that transitional work proceeds at the necessary pace.”

These initiatives will be led by local government and care will be taken to ensure they do not simply result in landfilling of waste in England.

Change of position

The Scottish administration had reiterated its plan for the ban to be implemented in 2021 as recently as August.

A spokesperson had told letsrecycle.com that though they were aware of the challenges of the 2021 target, those affected had been given adequate time to prepare. (see Letsrecycle.com story)

In response to speculation that the ban would be delayed, they added: “It is therefore disappointing that there is uncertainty around the readiness of some councils.

“Our focus is on working with authorities who do not yet have a solution in place to identify ways in which they can comply with the ban.”


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