19 August 2019

Scottish Government reinforces 2021 landfill ban

Holyrood has restated its commitment to a landfill ban in 2021 – despite some speculation that the date could be pushed back to 2025, writes Lucy Pegg with additional reporting by Lucy Lewin.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government claimed that available evidence showed “significant progress” had already been made on meeting the 2021 target and most councils had long term or interim solutions in place.

The Scottish government has reaffirmed its commitment to implementing a ban on biodegradable waste to landfill from 2021 (Stock photo)

The government statement comes in the wake of a letter written to the country’s Herald national newspaper. The letter was signed by former senior waste and environmental services staff at Scottish councils, who also suggested that the deadline was likely to change.

Colin Clark, Chris Ewing and John G Cunningham – previously of the Highland, Fife and Clackmannanshire* councils respectively – claimed in their August 5 letter to the Herald that the delay would be accompanied by a “fiscal measure”.

They wrote: “The 2021 landfill biodegradable waste ban illustrates perfectly the laissez-faire attitude of the government, which will over the coming days put the ban date back probably to 2025 (to coincide with the 2025 recycling and landfill target) doubtless with some lame fiscal measure which will not help.”

But the Scottish government defended itself against these comments, emphasising it was “committed to ending the practice of sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill.


Under the ban – which was passed under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations legislation in 2012 – no biodegradable municipal waste will be allowed to be sent to landfill sites from January 1 2021.

Concerns that local authorities and commercial waste operators in Scotland have failed to make adequate preparations for the ban were raised in a Eunomia report to Holyrood in April (see letsrecycle.com story).

“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. Further details will be available in due course.”

Scottish Government

A Scottish Government spokesperson said they remained aware of these challenges, but those affected had been given adequate time to prepare.

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. Further details will be available in due course.”

*Detail amended 14:30 19/08/2019

Related links

Herald letter


Scottish Government reinforces 2021 landfill ban (19/08/19)
We note the contents of your interesting article on Scotland’s bioban and reference to our recent correspondence on the matter.

You have quoted the Scottish Government. However at no stage does the SG either counter our view or indeed state categorically that the ban will be brought into force and enforced (by SEPA) on the 1st January 2021. We therefore conclude that the ban date will indeed, as we stated, be put back.

Delaying the ban is the only sensible decision given the country will have insufficient alternative capacity to meet it by the due date, and it would be self-defeating to export waste (should these markets remain available )to simply be seen to meet the ban date.

The objective of our response to the original article (in the Herald Newspaper) was to highlight the long-standing absence of strategic planning by using the bio-ban as one example and the (very) tardy nature of the introduction of the DRS as another. There are plenty of others including all of the recycling targets and others across the policy theatre.

The current situation reinforces the need for long term planning where policy requirements and infrastructure dovetail to produce a coherent and chronologically sensible delivery of objectives across Scotland and across public, private and 3rd sectors. This has not been the case hitherto in relation to wastes management.

Finally, if we have misinterpreted the contents of the article , we look forward to a clear and unambiguous statement from the SG that meets three simple tests:
1. the ban will be introduced in full on 1st January 2021;
2. it will be rigourously enforced by SEPA from 1st January 2021; and
3. the SG gives a detailed explanation of how the country will meet the ban from 1st January 2021.

For sake of completeness, Colin Clark was a senior manager with The Highland Council (Inverness Distirct Council ceased to exist in 1996) and John Cunningham was a senior manager with Clackmannanshire Council.

Colin Clark; Chris Ewing; John G Cunningham

Posted by colin clark on August 19, 2019

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