1 March 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

SESA raises concern over Scottish landfill ban

Waste management companies in Scotland are ‘deeply concerned’ about the country’s preparedness for a ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill by 2021.

Concerns have been raised by the Scottish Environmental Services Association (SESA) ahead of the ban coming into effect in January 2021, when landfill operators will be prohibited from accepting biodegradable municipal waste for disposal in landfill.

Landfill sites in Scotland will no longer be allowed to accept biodegradable municipal waste from January 2021

This comes after Scottish councils, through COSLA, expressed doubts over the achievability of the 2021 ban, first reported by letsrecycle.com last year (see letsrecycle.com story).

SESA says its research shows that Scotland lacks sufficient waste treatment capacity to meet the current 2021 deadline, and approximately 1 million tonnes of residual waste will have to find disposal outlets outside of Scotland – mostly in northern England.

According to data from the SEPA website, there are forecast to be around six operational energy from waste plants in Scotland by the end of the year.

These will have an overall capacity of close to 900,000 tonnes of waste per year, although mostare already tied into supply contracts and are unlikely to have a large amount of excess capacity to take in additional tonnages of material.

As there is no landfill ban planned for England, SESA claims this will mean most of the residual waste will “simply move across the border” according to SESA. Currently landfill tax in England is £88.95/tonne but is planned to be raised to over £94/tonne by April 2020.


SESA’s policy advisor, Stephen Freeland said the ban “needs to be properly planned for”.

“Bringing this ban in too early before the infrastructure is built in Scotland to deal properly with the waste will simply mean the waste will follow the line of least resistance,” he said.

“Bringing this ban in too early before the infrastructure is built in Scotland to deal properly with the waste will simply mean the waste will follow the line of least resistance.”

Stephen Freeland

“This means either crossing the border into England to be landfilled, meaning higher haulage costs to local authorities and businesses and a hefty landfill tax bill, or worse it will end up in the hands of waste criminals who cause misery for people, damage to the environment, and have a significant impact on UK finances.

“Either way, that won’t be good for the environment or Scotland’s economy and we will be seeking an early meeting with Scottish Government to help come up with a plan of action that will help resolve this situation.”


When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Adrian Bond, programme manager for recycling, Zero Waste Scotland – the resources and waste body funded by the Scottish Government – said the organisation is ‘continuing to support’ efforts to prepare for the 2021 deadline.

He said: “Zero Waste Scotland will continue to support the Scottish Government to deliver their Zero Waste Plan, which includes the ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill. Figures show that Scottish households are recycling more food waste than ever before, the most carbon intensive type of household waste.

“The effort made by householders to separate their food waste is a positive step in the right direction and we remain committed to helping local authorities find the best solutions for biodegradable waste they collect now and beyond 2021. Reduction is better for the environment than recycling so the best way to combat waste is to prevent it in the first place.”

LARAC Scotland

2 May 2019
Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow


To post your comment, please login or signup.

Login Sign up