New waste plans focus on environment and economy

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The Scottish government has announced the publication of Scotland’s first Zero Waste Plan.

The plan sets out key actions, including new targets, to tackle the near 20 milion tonnes of waste produced by Scotland every year….


The Scottish government has announced the publication of Scotland’s first Zero Waste Plan.

The plan sets out key actions, including new targets, to tackle the near 20 milion tonnes of waste produced by Scotland every year.

It aims to drive change and inspire households, businesses, community groups, local authorities and the wider public sector to change the way they view and deal with waste. It contains a broader approach to tackle all waste, not just waste collected by councils.

The plan proposes a new way of looking at the materials Scotland produces – recognising everything designed, produced and used is a resource which has a value. It will introduce ‘radical’ new measures, including:

  • Landfill bans for specific waste types, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capturing their value.
  • Separate collections of specific waste types, including food (to avoid contaminating other materials), to increase reuse and recycling opportunities and contributing to the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets.
  • Two new targets that will apply to all waste: 70 per cent target recycled, and maximum five per cent sent to landfill, both by 2025.
  • Restrictions on the input to all energy from waste facilities, in the past only applicable to municipal waste.
  • Encouraging local authorities and the resource management sector to establish good practice commitments and work together to create consistent waste management services, benefitting businesses and the public.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead was today joined by community champions, business owners and local authority leaders to demonstrate that the zero waste vision can deliver major benefits to the economy as well as the environment.

Mr Lochhead said:
“Scotland is embarking on the zero waste journey to protect our environment and help our economy. We can’t go on as business as usual because we can’t afford to and because resources are finite.

“In recent years, the people of Scotland have made substantial progress in cutting waste but households, businesses and wider society still produces enough waste to fill an Olympic size swimming pool every ten minutes. Even when it come to food, every home on average throws out #430 worth every year. Six million tonnes of the waste we generates ends up in landfill.

“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.

“We are taking decisive action and setting ambitious targets. This includes a new 70 per cent target for all waste to be recycled by 2025.

“Viewing waste as a resource opens many doors; rather than carelessly discarding materials to landfill, we can create new products and generate renewable energy, heat and fertiliser while creating over 2,000 jobs. The Zero Waste Plan will help deliver progressive landfill bans, with the end goal of no waste with reuse or recycling potential being landfilled by 2020.

“Separating waste at the earliest possible stage will help recover the maximum value from different materials. By separating food waste, we will avoid contaminating other materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as generate more renewable energy.

“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.”

Councillor Alison Hay, Regeneration and Sustainable Development Spokesperson, COSLA said:
“COSLA welcomes the publication of the Zero Waste Plan. Scottish councils have a long-standing commitment to the zero waste agenda. Authorities are now focussing on the delivery of infrastructure and other services which are required to help achieve a Zero Waste Scotland.

“Scottish Councils want to see more measures to prevent waste arising in the first place, as much waste as possible being re-used and materials being recycled to achieve maximum value from these resources. Household waste, can no longer just be dumped in holes in the ground. We need to continue and accelerate waste being separated by householders and build upon the existing good work by Scottish local authorities.

“COSLA is determined that by working in partnership with the general public, Scottish Government and the private sector a Zero Waste Scotland is achievable”.

Some actions of the plan have already been put in place. Results of the recent consultation confirmed stakeholder and public desire for a single, Scotland-focussed programme, driven by and aligned to deliver Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan. The new Zero Waste Scotland programme will integrate the activities of existing programmes and result in more focussed delivery of the Zero Waste Plan. By taking a one-stop-shop approach, Zero Waste Scotland will also make it easier for customers to access support, reduce overlaps of activities, make potential efficiency savings, as well as improving transparency and accountability.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland said:
“Zero Waste is no longer an aspiration; it is a necessity for the future economic and environmental prosperity of Scotland.

“All of us, whether as individuals, businesses or public bodies, have a vested interest in maximising the value of the resources we use in our daily lives. We simply cannot afford to create waste on the scale we have done in the past.

“The Scottish Government’s new Zero Waste Plan is a bold vision, but its successful delivery will require people from all walks of life to engage with the issues, understand the true cost of waste and transform the way they produce or consume goods and services. We look forward to the challenge of delivering a Zero Waste Scotland.”

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Other key measures in the plan include:

  • Development of a Waste Prevention Programme for all wastes, making prevention and reuse central to actions and policies.
  • Improved information on different waste sources and types highlighting further economic and environmental opportunities.
  • Measure the carbon impacts of waste to prioritise the recycling of resources which offer the greatest environmental and climate change outcomes.