SESA lauds ‘balanced’ Scottish EfW review

A review of the role of incineration in Scotland which recommends a cap on future energy from waste (EfW) capacity offers a “balanced perspective”, the Scottish Environmental Services Association (SESA) says.

Dr Church’s report recommended an immediate halt on the approval of new EfW plants by Scottish local authorities

And, Lorna Slater, Scotland’s circular economy minister, said the review showed incineration had only a “limited” role in managing the country’s residual waste.

The Scottish Government published the findings of the independent review, conducted by former CIWM chief Colin Church, yesterday (10 May) (see story).

Dr Church’s report recommended an immediate halt on the approval of new EfW plants by Scottish local authorities.

However, it noted that there was likely to be a residual waste treatment capacity gap when Scotland introduces its ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill in 2025.

Ms Slater said the Scottish Government would consider Dr Church’s recommendations “carefully” and provide an initial response in June.

Balanced perspective

SESA represents operators of waste management services in Scotland and is part of the ESA, the trade association representing the UK’s private waste sector.

Jacob Hayler is executive director of the ESA

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA, welcomed Dr Church’s report and said the suggestion of a likely capacity gap was “in line” with his organisation’s analysis.

SESA suggested Scotland required “significant upstream policy interventions” to help businesses and consumers recycle more and waste less.

Mr Hayler said: “It is essential that we all work to drive more recyclable materials out of the residual waste stream by focusing on waste avoidance, re-use and recycling, and on important up-stream interventions to stop wasteful packaging and products from being placed on the market but, in line with the report’s findings, energy from waste continues to perform a vital role as a back-stop for waste that cannot be recycled in Scotland for now.”

The report also recommended efforts to improve and develop better waste management data and improve Scotland’s capacity to model future trends across the waste management system, something SESA described as “absolutely vital”.

Mr Hayler said the waste sector would continue to work with national and local government in Scotland to engage and build trust with communities.

Circular economy

Meanwhile, Ms Slater said Dr Church’s work would play a “pivotal role” in shaping Scotland’s future waste policy.

Lorna Slater is Scotland’s circular economy minister (picture: Scottish Government)

Only by increasing reuse and recycling can Scotland meet its net zero targets, Ms Slater said.

She added: “It is clear from the review that although incineration has a role to play in managing Scotland’s unavoidable, unrecyclable residual waste in a safe way, that role is inevitably limited.

“As we transition to a circular economy, Scotland will need significantly less incineration capacity than is currently projected and it is vital that we do not have more capacity than we need.”

Related link
Stop, Sort, Burn, Bury – incineration in the waste hierarchy: independent review 

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