Scotland publishes first Zero Waste Plan

The Scottish Government has today (June 9) taken a step towards becoming a zero waste society with the publication of its Zero Waste Plan – which confirms the scrapping of a proposed 25% cap on energy-from-waste and outlines plans for landfill bans.

The 59-page Zero Waste Plan outlines Scottish Government thinking on waste for the next 10 years
The 59-page Zero Waste Plan outlines Scottish Government thinking on waste for the next 10 years
The document sets out how the Scottish Government intends to increase recycling and reduce waste in the country, while setting a new self-imposed goal of recycling 70% of waste from all sources by 2025 and promoting the use of source-separated collections.

Launched today in Edinburgh, the 59-page Plan comes three years after the Scottish Government said it wanted to turn the country into a ‘zero waste society', with ambitious plans to recycle 70% of municipal waste by 2025 and send just 5% to landfill (see letsrecycle.com story).

Among the main themes of the Plan launched today is the confirmation that the Scottish Government has abandoned plans for a 25% cap on the use of energy-from-waste as a disposal method and instead will be introducing measures to ensure recyclable or reusable waste does not go to incineration.

The document states: “Energy-from-waste has an important role to play and could contribute to 31% of Scotland's renewable heat target and 4.3% of our renewable electricity target. The Scottish Government will develop a new regulatory approach to energy-from-waste, based on categories of resources which may be treated this way.”

Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead had explained that the Government was reviewing the proposed cap during a debate on the Zero Waste Plan in the Scottish Parliament last month and had suggested tighter regulation on inputs would be imposed (see letsrecycle.com story).

Landfill bans

The tighter input controls for energy-from-waste are set to be complemented by proposals for landfill bans, with the Scottish Government intending to introduce bans for “priority waste streams”, such as plastic, paper, metal and food, over the next five to 10 years to allow for greater source segregation methods to be introduced.

The Scottish Government pointed to research work undertaken by the government-funded body WRAP and Bristol-based environmental consultancy Eunomia in November 2009 as the scientific background for it pursuing landfill bans (see letsrecycle.com story).

Key Points

  • Landfill bans for specific waste types, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and capturing their value
  • Separate collections of specific waste types, including food
  • Recycle 70% of all waste and a maximum 5% sent to landfill by 2025
  • Restrictions on the input to all EfW facilities, in the past only applicable to municipal waste
  • Encouraging local authorities and the resource management sector to establish good practice commitments

Speaking at the official launch, Mr Lochhead said: “I am proud of the significant progress made in our journey to becoming a zero waste society, but there are still a number of hurdles in our path. This new plan can help us overcome them and re-energise and refocus our efforts.”

Mr Lochhead added that the implementation of the Zero Waste Plan could potentially lead to the creation of 2,000 jobs in the country and help further Scotland's environmental credentials.

He said: “This is a call for action from every individual and sector to do what they can. Scotland can be a cleaner, greener place to live with a thriving low carbon economy, and we must all work together to make it happen. I urge every Scot whether at home, out and about or in the workplace to join the journey to a zero waste Scotland.”

Source separated

One of the main themes to emerge from the strategy is an overt call from the Scottish Government for the use of source separate collections for “specific waste types”, with food highlighted as the main focus of this policy.

This is extended behind municipal and household waste, with the Zero Waste Plan including a mandatory requirement for commercial and industrial (C&I) waste producers to take steps to pre-sort or segregate waste for collection.

And this will include a requirement for waste collectors to separately collect food waste and recyclable waste, such as plastics, paper, cardboard, metal and glass.


Other measures announced in the Plan include the Scottish Government working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to ensure that the land use planning system is able to align with the ambitions of the Zero Waste Plan.

And, there is also plans to increase the push for councils in Scotland to increase “recycling-on-the-go”, to promote more awareness programmes around waste and work with the Scottish Government to review the success of measures to change residents' behaviour with regards to waste.

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