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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation


Annex - O - Analysis of potential jobs created by Zero Waste


1. This Annex provides a brief analysis of the potential jobs which could be created by the moves towards Zero Waste during the 6 year life-span of the Zero Waste Plan. (Article 30 of the revised Waste Framework Directive lays down that Member States shall ensure that waste management plans and waste prevention programmes are evaluated at least every sixth year and revised as appropriate).

2. This analysis is offered on a tentative basis. The figures on jobs are estimates and should not be regarded as targets. The estimates are on the low side, to avoid any false expectations.

3. It is always difficult to predict how many jobs might be created by a particular economic activity. For waste management and recycling, this is further complicated by the (very welcome) increased use of recyclate by a large number of companies who are not directly in the waste management industry. Related jobs of this nature are not included in the calculations below but direct jobs in reprocessing in Scotland are included.

4. Comments are welcome on this Annex and should be submitted along with any comments on the draft Zero Waste Plan.

REMADE Scotland report

5. REMADE Scotland published, in March 2008, an assessment of the economic and job opportunities arising in Scotland in relation to the growth in solid wastes management. 1

Number of jobs in waste management and reprocessing

6. This report found the following about Full-Time Equivalent jobs in waste management and reprocessing:


1998 (unless shown)

2004 (unless shown)


Public sector (local authorities)

1,381 (2003)

2,827 [Audit Scotland 2007 report - figures for 2005/06]


Private sector




Community sector

360 (2003)

1,100 (2006)


Private sector consultancy

Relatively few

250 (2006)


Government programmes (including the waste strategy team at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency)

Relatively few

100 (2006)






More detail on local authorities

7. The REMADE Scotland study suggested that of the 1,446 jobs created in local authority waste management:

  • 3% were senior posts;
  • 16% were technical posts; and
  • 81% were manual posts.

More detail on the private sector

8. The REMADE Scotland study suggested:

  • Collection and disposal makes up most of the employment (approximately 2,600 employees in 2004), followed by non-scrap recycling (600) and scrap recycling (500).
  • Employment in recycling has remained constant over the review period whilst employment in disposal activities has grown by 2,000.
  • Turnover from 1998 to 2004 increased by 70% to £453.9 million in 2004.
  • The waste management industry spent £230 million in 2004 on goods, materials and services.
  • Capital expenditure has risen by over 300% since 1998.

More detail on the community sector

9 The REMADE Scotland study, using information from the Community Recycling Network for Scotland ( CRNS), shows that as well as the Full Time Equivalent figures given above, the sector provides 970 training placements and over 3,200 voluntary positions.

10. The CRNS produce regular "mapping" studies of the sector 2.

The waste and recycling industry in Scotland - a brief synopsis

11. Currently, waste management economic activity in Scotland is along the following lines:

  • Nearly 100% of collections of household waste are carried out in-house by local authorities. There has been little contracting out of household collections to the private and community sectors.
  • Around 400,000 tonnes of commercial waste are collected by local authorities each year.
  • Most commercial waste is, however, collected by the private waste management industry, with some collected by the community sector.
  • Local authorities run a number of landfills. However, many local authority landfills have shut in recent years and most landfills are now run by private sector companies 3
  • There are few plants (other than landfill) treating residual waste.
  • Scotland has a number of merchants engaged in handling and sorting waste before it is reprocessed into new products and also has a number of reprocessors.
  • The 32 local authorities in Scotland use almost 200 waste management contractors. [ Source: REMADE Scotland].

Future business in recycling and waste management - all wastes

12. Opportunities are likely to arise in the following areas:

  • Increased collections, as Scotland moves further away from landfill.
  • Increased sorting of waste, at Material Recycling Facilities ( MRFs).
  • Business resource efficiency.
  • Increased re-use.
  • Increased reprocessing capacity in Scotland.
  • Increased use of residual waste treatment facilities (other than landfill) to treat waste.


13. There will be an increased number of collections of materials for recycling, in order to meet the targets on recycling which relate to municipal waste, revised WFD requirements for all wastes and to increase the diversion of commercial waste from landfill.

14. Specific areas where we expect to see more collections are shown below (there will be some duplications in the following list):

  • Food waste. This is a major component of both commercial and household waste streams. The Scottish Government, through WRAP, has invested in infrastructure to treat food waste, as has the private sector.
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment ( WEEE). To ensure Scotland's continued compliance with EU requirements.
  • SMEs. There is growing demand from SMEs for recycling collections.
  • Plastics. Scottish Government, through WRAP, is investing in infrastructure to reprocess plastics.
  • Household. The targets laid down by Scottish Government will require more collections of recyclate and more materials to be collected.

15. The REMADE Scotland study shows that around 1,446 jobs were created in local authorities from 2003 to 2006. These jobs were created at a time when there were major improvements in recycling services for householders. The Government expects continued improvements to take place and also expects more recycling services to be put in place for commercial waste. Given these factors, the Government considers it might be reasonable to expect a similar increase in the number of jobs in collection over the next 6 years. This suggests around 1,450 jobs over the next 6 years could be created in collecting recyclate.

Sorting of waste

16. REMADE Scotland have carried out a study on short to medium term Material Recycling Facilities ( MRFs) requirements for municipal waste in Scotland 4. This estimates that 103 jobs could be created.

17. The study looks at municipal waste. There is more waste in the commercial and industrial and construction and demolition sectors but there may be less of a need for MRFs given that some producers in these sectors will produce large volumes of homogeneous material. Therefore, it might be reasonable to assume that the same number of jobs could be created in relation to MRFs needed to sort non-municipal waste as are needed for MRFs to sort municipal waste.

18. Therefore, around 200 jobs could be created through sorting waste in the life-span of the Plan.

Resource efficiency and re-use

19. Business resource efficiency can sustain and create jobs. The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme Scotland results for 2008/09 indicate that their work has created 14 jobs and secured 10. 5 As a tentative estimate, therefore, the Government would suggest that around 100 jobs could be created in the 6 year life-span of the Plan.

20. Annex G to this draft Plan contains the proposed re-use framework. This indicates that an accredited training programme for reuse and repair will be established and that this will result in the provision of accredited training to 2,000 trainees and volunteers per annum by 2013.

Existing Reprocessing

21. Annex H to this draft Plan provides information on which materials collected in the municipal waste stream are reprocessed in Scotland; which elsewhere in the UK and which overseas.

22. Scotland has a large amount of companies taking recyclate and turning them into new products and arranging for materials to be re-used. Materials re-used and reprocessed in Scotland include:

  • Aggregates
  • Carpets
  • Food waste
  • Furniture (both office and home)
  • Glass
  • Green (garden) waste
  • Mattresses
  • Mobile phones
  • Paper (although most of this is now reprocessed outwith Scotland)
  • Plasterboard
  • Plastics (although most of this is now reprocessed outwith Scotland).
  • Tyres
  • Used cooking oil
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
  • Wood

23. In addition, a number of companies sort and manage other waste streams, such as metals and textiles, before they are finally reprocessed or re-used.

24. Looking ahead, the areas most likely to expand in Scotland are plastics and food waste. The Scottish Government is supporting the provision of infrastructure in these areas, through capital grant schemes run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme.

Food waste reprocessing

25. On food waste, around 18% of the household bin is food waste. This equates to around 540,000 tonnes [18% of 3 million tonnes].

26. Around 17% of the residual commercial and industrial waste stream is food waste. This equates to around 465,000 tonnes [17% of 2,731,000 tonnes].

27. This suggests that there is around 1 million tonnes of food waste in Scotland.

28. A 50% capture rate would mean treatment capacity of 500,000 tonnes, to be treated through either Anaerobic Digestion plants or In-Vessel Composting plants. On the basis that the average through-put of one of these plants is around 30,000 tonnes, this suggests that we need around 17 plants (compared with around 5 just now).

29. This means 12 more plants. If each has 10 jobs, this would suggest 120 jobs created in the life-span of the Plan to treat food waste.

Plastics reprocessing

30. WRAP has run a new capital grant programme on behalf of the Scottish Government to provide financial assistance towards a facility (or facilities) that will be capable of sorting, recycling and reprocessing a range of plastic waste thereby diverting from landfill a minimum of 20,000 additional tonnes per annum

31. This could lead to around 20 jobs being created in the life-span of the Plan.

Residual waste treatment infrastructure

32. The Scottish Government recognises that energy from waste can play a role in a Zero Waste Scotland, after every effort has been made to prevent, re-use and recycle waste.

33. However, modern infrastructure to treat residual waste is not job-intensive. Given this, and given the Government's commitment to following the waste hierarchy, the Government does not consider that a large number of permanent jobs will be created in relation to residual waste treatment infrastructure during the life-span of the Plan. We estimate that around 100 net permanent jobs might be created by residual waste treatment infrastructure in the life-span of this Plan. This excludes construction jobs.


34. The table below summarises the potential for new jobs in private, public and third sectors in the life-span of the Plan.



Recycling collections


Sorting of waste


Resource efficiency


Food waste processing


Plastic waste reprocessing


Residual waste treatment infrastructure




35. In addition work on re-use could result in the provision of accredited training to 2,000 trainees and volunteers per annum by 2013.

Skills in the waste management industry

36. The increasing move away from landfill will require a skilled workforce.

37. The Energy and Utility Sector Skills Council is responsible for the skills agenda of the UK waste management industry covering the areas of; collection, treatment and final management of waste and recyclables. 6

38. In 2005 Forward Scotland additionally mapped the skills requirements of the Scottish waste management sector in Scotland 7.

39. In September 2007, the Scottish Government published the Skills Strategy, Skills for Scotland.

40. This strategy sets out the Scottish Government's ambitions for skills, in a lifelong learning context, from cradle to the grave. It covers early years provision, schools, further and higher education, work related learning and informal learning opportunities. The strategy also proposes improved structures for funding and information provision 8.

Scottish Government
August 2009