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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation

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Annex - L- Landfill Bans Project Summary

Background

1. Scotland has a commitment to Zero Waste and to meeting challenging targets on recycling and on reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Given Scotland's historic reliance on landfill, the Scottish Government is researching policy levers that could help meet Zero Waste objectives.

2. One of these policy levers could be to ban additional materials/products or waste streams from landfill. This issue was also considered by the Zero Waste Think Tank, set up by the Cabinet Secretary. The Climate Change Directorate of the Scottish Government have also noted that banning additional materials from landfill could be one of the policy levers used to help achieve climate change targets.

3. Scotland has made limited use of bans, for example for whole tyres, untreated wastes and liquid wastes, in response to EU legislation. Other European countries have made more widespread use of landfill bans.

4. The Scottish Ministers have the power to ban material from landfill by making regulations under section 2 of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 or by using powers under the European Communities Act 1972. We expect that any such regulations introducing bans would be subject to affirmative resolution procedures in Parliament, given that new criminal offences would be created.

The project

5. A project to examine potential landfill bans has been let to Eunomia. The project extends across the whole of the UK. The Waste and Resources Action Programme ( WRAP is project managing this work on behalf of the Scottish Government, the UK Government (for England), the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.

Aim of the project:

6. The aim of this work is to better understand the environmental and economic consequences of introducing any additional landfill bans, and to acquire an appreciation of the practical implications, including issues around enforcement, of any such additional bans.

7. Any further bans could help Scotland achieve the following:

  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions;
  • help in meeting EU targets on reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill and on recycling;
  • help in meeting targets on renewable energy and renewable heat;
  • increased economic and business opportunities;
  • potential health benefits from reduced landfilling;
  • ensuring that material with a high economic value (either in terms of price or in terms of limitation of supply or both) is not sent to landfill;
  • ensuring that materials with high avoided carbon when recycled are not landfilled; and
  • increased market certainty regarding the development of collection and reprocessing infrastructure.

Key issues being considered in the project

8. The following issues are being considered:

  • Distinctions between household waste and commercial waste. For example, in the nature of any advice provided, the types of waste affected and the space and separation needed.
  • Additional non-landfill collection and management infrastructure needed to treat waste banned from landfill. This includes technical, legislative, market and capacity issues. For example:
    • The markets for reprocessing, recycling and waste treatment.
    • The implications of any lack of a market for any specific materials.
    • Business opportunities.
    • Geographical differences.
    • Likely costs associated with procurement and building of new infrastructure.
    • Costs of landfill bans, including any additional costs for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), as the regulator.
    • Transport costs and environmental impacts including any increased need for export of waste.
  • The practicalities of introducing bans - including timing and sequencing. This includes the need for consultations, the Parliamentary requirements and the timescale required to develop alternative collection and treatment infrastructure
  • Enforcement of bans. The extent to which waste producers and subsequent handlers of the waste, including landfill operators, should have obligations to give effect to the bans and how compliance with those obligations should be assessed.
  • Leachate and Landfill gas impacts resulting from bans. In particular, landfills need a limited biodegradable content for remediation and stabilisation.
  • Interaction with existing policy instruments including landfill tax, existing pre-treatment requirements and the Landfill Allowance Scheme (which is currently suspended in Scotland).
  • Any other new policies which may be required to realise the full environmental and economic benefit of bans so as to avoid landfill being replaced by unsuitable alternative treatment methods.
  • Social implications such as increasing the need for other infrastructure, which may need to be sited near householders. Any impact on the planning system will also need to be borne in mind.
  • Communication and the way in which information about any new bans should be communicated to those affected.
  • Environmental and carbon impacts from a life cycle perspective, including considerations of embodied carbon as well as greenhouse gas (mainly methane) emissions reduced by avoiding landfill as a disposal option.
  • Possible impacts of bans on achieving targets. This applies particularly to municipal waste targets, but also to commercial waste targets where these exist.
  • Fly tipping and other illegal activities and the impact of landfill bans.
  • Economic, environmental and practical impacts on remote and rural areas of Scotland, including islands.
  • Any cross-border issues in relation to any bans.

Summary Methodology

9. A brief summary of the methodology followed by the contractor is shown below.

10. A screening exercise was undertaken to develop a list of materials, products and or waste streams which would make suitable candidates for bans. Criteria used to develop this list included volume, weight, economic value, environmental impact, hazard to human health, biodegradability, and existing or potential markets.

11. A literature review was undertaken to examine the environmental and economic impact, and lessons learnt, from existing landfill bans in place in the UK and elsewhere, including in relation to enforcement.

12. A Stakeholder workshop took place in Glasgow (there were others in the other nations of the UK) to gather views about the feasibility and likely impacts of introducing landfill bans.

13. A cost-benefit analysis looking at the following materials, products and wastes with specific properties is now being undertaken:

  • Materials
    • Glass
    • Wood
    • Food
    • Textiles
    • Paper / card
    • Plastics
    • Metals
    • Green waste
  • Products
    • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment ( WEEE)
  • Property-based
    • Biodegradable
    • Non-segregated waste

14. Final Report (including summary) to include findings from the literature review, the stakeholder workshop and the cost-benefit analysis.

15. The Scottish Government has reached no decision on which further materials could be banned from landfill and there will be a full further consultation before any bans are introduced.

Scottish Government
August 2009