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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation


01 Delivering Zero Waste

Our vision is of a Scotland which:

  • Promotes sustainable design.
  • Prevents waste.
  • Has high levels of recycling and composting.
  • Seizes the economic, environmental and job opportunities arising from Zero Waste.
  • Reduces landfill to a minimum.
  • Has effective, efficient and co-ordinated delivery.

1.1 Introduction

Zero Waste creates opportunities for Scotland by:

  • Encouraging more participation in positive environmental behaviour. This Plan will encourage greater participation in waste prevention, re-use and recycling. We will use the lessons in these areas to encourage and increase participation in positive environmental behaviour in other areas.
  • Improving Scotland's economic performance by moving away from landfill. Treating individual waste streams as a resource creates jobs in Scotland in areas such as collection, treatment, education and awareness, repair and re-use and reprocessing the material back into products.
  • Bringing social benefits through employing and training disadvantaged people and regenerating communities.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from waste management. The Greenhouse Gas Inventory indicates that currently around 4% of Scotland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions relate to waste management. This is falling as Scotland sends less waste to landfill and as more of the methane emitted by landfill sites is captured and put into the energy grid. Further work on reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Eliminating the unnecessary use of raw materials. This leads to further reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in areas such as mining of raw materials, manufacturing and transport. There are also financial savings.
  • Producing energy savings from making products from recycled materials, rather than from virgin materials.
  • Making a positive contribution towards meeting renewable electricity and heat targets.

This Plan is required by the European Union and many of our targets come from EU requirements. Annex A outlines the revised Waste Framework Directive ( WFD) requirements and summarises EU and National targets.

1.2 Waste hierarchy

Government's waste policy is in line with the waste hierarchy outlined in Article 4 of the Revised WFD. 1 In addition, Government is committed to the proximity principle which requires waste to be dealt with as close as possible to where it is produced.


Question 1

What further steps, if any, need to be taken to promote the waste hierarchy?

1.3 Waste management in Scotland

Scotland currently recycles and composts around one third of its municipal waste and landfills nearly all of the rest (around 2% currently goes through energy from waste). Figure 1 gives more information on how other forms of waste are managed.

Figure 1: Controlled Waste Management (other than municipal waste)

Figure 1: Controlled Waste Management (other than municipal waste)

Calendar Year

Commercial and Industrial (%)






Other treatment





























Calendar Year

Construction and Demolition (%)






Other treatment





























Percentages are correct to one decimal place, any differences are due to rounding.
† The tonnages of C&I and C&D waste landfilled in 2004 are estimates. For further details see Table 9, Annex B.
Sources: SEPA returns and surveys. For further details see Tables 5 and 6, Annex B.

1.4 Measuring progress

We need to measure progress in an accurate and understandable way. To do this, we will continue to measure progress towards Zero Waste in relation to tonnes of waste: produced, reused, recycled, composted, incinerated and landfilled. However, other factors as well as waste tonnage may also need to be taken into account when measuring progress. These include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions. [However, the waste management section of the Greenhouse Gas Inventory only records emissions from landfill, incinerators and fly-tipping].
  • Economic factors, such as jobs created in Scotland.
  • Social factors, such as the number of disadvantaged people being employed and trained.
  • Other environmental factors, such as biodiversity and reduced hazardous nature of waste.

Government will produce an annual report showing progress on Zero Waste.

In accordance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, Government has prepared an Environmental Report. Consultation on the Environmental Report is taking place in parallel with the consultation on this draft Plan.

Question 2

a) Waste tonnage will continue to be the main measure of progress. However, should Government also use other ways of measuring progress? Yes/No.

b) If yes, what measures, how and why?

1.5 Improving data

Detailed information on the amounts of waste produced by Scotland and how this waste is managed is in Annex B.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) is committed to improving data further on all types of controlled waste.

Data on municipal waste is collected from local authorities through WasteDataFlow.

The one current major omission is on the composition of municipal waste. The Waste and Resources Action Programme ( WRAP) are doing work at the moment to improve compositional data.

Government considers that compositional analysis of municipal waste should be undertaken regularly and routinely by local authorities, following the SEPA methodology 2 and with the results sent to SEPA for inclusion in the Waste Data Digests.SEPA's Waste Data Strategy has recommended adding additional questions to WasteDataFlow to allow the reporting of waste analysis results obtained by local authorities.

On commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste, data is currently unreliable in relation to amounts produced, recycled (data on amounts landfilled and incinerated is much more reliable) and its composition. There are a number of ways Government and SEPA can improve data:

  • Voluntary surveys of business have been carried out: http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_data/commercial_industrial_waste/business_waste_surveys.aspx These surveys have had low response rates and are expensive to carry out.
  • Other bodies (eg WRAP and Envirowise) may have information on waste arisings in specific sectors. This information helps determine the focus for bodies such as WRAP and Envirowise. However, the data may be incomplete and some information may be held in confidence. Given this, it will be difficult for SEPA to use information obtained from third parties in the Waste Data Digest and other statistical returns (the exception is where data is collected on a statutory basis by central government, Non Departmental Public Bodies ( NDPBs) or local authorities).
  • SEPA can (and does) obtain data information from licensed waste management sites. However, these do not allow the producer of the waste to be identified. In addition, as waste often moves from one site to another before it is finally treated, this can lead to double-counting, over-estimating the amounts of waste. SEPA is currently working to reduce the amount of double-counting.
  • Surveys of specific waste streams.SEPA have carried these out in the past, through National Best Practice Projects: http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/moving_towards_zero_waste/business_waste/national_best_practice_project/status_of_nbpps.aspx Such one-off surveys can provide useful information for policy makers and investors but only provide a "snapshot" of wastes arising at a given time.
  • Waste Transfer Notes. These are required when waste is transferred from one party to another (section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 lays down duty of care provisions in relation to waste). However, the Notes are not sent into SEPA, although local authorities and SEPA can demand that the Notes be provided to them.
  • Mandatory returns. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 allows Ministers to make regulations requiring waste producers to send returns to SEPA on the amount of waste produced. Such returns could be required from larger businesses, to reduce burdens on smaller businesses generating low amounts of waste. The section lays down that the first draft regulations under this section must be laid before Parliament no later than 12 months after the day the section is commenced (the commencement date is likely to be by the end of October 2009).

1.6 Improving data - the potential way ahead

Government and SEPA have considered how to improve data on commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste. Annex C provides details. In summary, we consider the way ahead is:

  • SEPA will continue to collect data from waste management sites with a licence or permit.
  • We will carry out surveys of specific waste streams, as and when required.
  • Regulations should be made under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act to make it mandatory for businesses receiving SEPA's waste data request to complete it.

Question 3

a) Do you agree with these proposals on improving data? Yes/No.

b) If no, what should be done and how and by whom?

1.7 Your role

Achieving Zero Waste requires commitment from:

The Scottish Government - to provide strategic direction and leadership; to fund and
co-ordinate public sector bodies and waste delivery bodies; to legislate when appropriate; to demonstrate best Zero Waste practice in areas such as waste prevention, re-use, recycling and sustainable procurement; and to report on progress.

Waste producers - whether as a householder, employee or business, to reduce the amount of waste they produce; to treat waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy and legal obligations; to buy and use products made from recyclate.

SEPA - to regulate proportionately waste management operations and their outputs; to collect and publish waste data; and to comment, as a key Agency, on local authority development plans and planning applications for waste management infrastructure.

Local authorities - to ensure that key waste targets for which they are responsible are delivered and ensure that development plans reflect the need for waste infrastructure (of all types, not just municipal waste). Local Authorities also need to ensure all types of new development are designed for the new methods of waste collection, segregation and storage and must implement planning policies on sustainability by ensuring waste generated from new developments is minimised and managed. Local authorities, Government and all other parts of the public sector need to demonstrate best Zero Waste practice in areas such as waste prevention, re-use, recycling and sustainable procurement.

The private sector - to invest in, build and operate collection, reprocessing and waste management facilities that support the delivery of waste targets and objectives.

photoThe community recycling sector - to continue to deliver waste prevention, recycling collections and re-use. This sector frequently works in difficult areas, is innovative and often has a social inclusion role as well as a role in Zero Waste.

Waste delivery bodies - to support the private, public and community sectors in relation to resource efficiency, waste prevention, re-use, recycling, market development and education and awareness.

1.8 Area Waste Plans

The National Waste Strategy (1999) established 11 Area Waste Groups to bring together local authorities and other bodies (eg the private waste industry, the community sector, environmental NGOs and business waste producers). These Groups each produced an Area Waste Plan and these Plans were used to inform the National Waste Plan published in 2003. The Area Waste Groups and Plans are not statutory and are owned by the Members of the Groups. The Groups are co-ordinated by SEPA and annual reports are produced showing progress on agreed action plans. http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_publications/waste_plans.aspx

SEPA has recently published Strategic Waste Management Reviews for the Waste Strategy Areas. These provide information on waste management data and infrastructure across Scotland in 2006. http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_data/waste_data_reports/waste_management_reviews.aspx

Question 4

What should be the future role of Area Waste Groups and Area Waste Plans? Options include:

i) Abolition (if so, how do you feel local needs could best be supported and developed?).

ii) Updating Area Groups and Plans to reflect this Plan's objectives.

iii) SEPA to prepare new Area Plans which focus exclusively on data and infrastructure, similar to the Strategic Waste Management Reviews.

iv) Using the Groups to monitor local delivery but with no Plan making requirements.

v) Other option. If so, please outline.

1.9 Delivery bodies

Government is undertaking a review of the Zero Waste delivery programmes it directly funds, to ensure they are effective, accountable and achieve value for money. Annex D outlines the current work undertaken by delivery bodies.

Some key activities which delivery bodies undertake include:

  • Resource efficiency advice and support to business waste producers and to the public sector.
  • Developing Voluntary Agreements with key industries (eg retailers and the construction industry), including in relation to the supply chains.
  • Work on sustainable design, in line with Zero Waste principles.
  • Supporting the recycling and composting industry; providing technical advice and support; and work, with SEPA, on regulatory issues and standards.
  • Factual advice, based on research, to householders on waste prevention in areas such as food waste, packaging, home composting and unwanted mail.
  • Supporting local authorities and others collecting recyclate in relation to efficiency in collection; finding markets for recyclate; and education and awareness campaigns to householders, consisting of factual advice, based on research.
  • Supporting the community recycling sector.
  • Advising on sustainable procurement.

Question 5

a) Is there a need for a simplified delivery body programme? Yes/No. If yes, what form should this take?

b) Are there areas where additional work is required from delivery bodies to support progress towards a Zero Waste Scotland? Yes/No. If yes, what are these areas of additional work?

c) Are there current areas of work which delivery bodies could stop doing? Yes/No. If yes, what are these areas of work?

1.10 Land-use planning

Moving to Zero Waste means more facilities will be required to collect, sort, reduce, re-use, recycle and process waste. There will also be opportunities to harness heat and power generated by waste treatment processes. The provision of this infrastructure is recognised as a Government priority in the second National Planning Framework: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/07/02105627/0

The planning system is crucial to delivery of recycling and treatment facilities and such infrastructure will require planning permission. Furthermore, all new developments must be designed to allow for the minimisation, recycling and management of waste. Additionally, the revised Waste Framework Directive ( WFD) specifically requires that Scotland's plans outline criteria for locating waste management facilities. The WFD also encourages Member States to become self-sufficient in the disposal and recovery of waste.

This can be done by:

  • Providing clear, positive planning policies. In all Strategic Development Plans ( SDPs), waste management development is expected to be a principal topic. For all Local Development Plans ( LDPs), regulations require the planning authority to have regard to the National Waste Management Plan. Together, SDPs and LDPs will provide a land-use planning framework which steers new waste management infrastructure development to the most appropriate locations. SDPs and LDPs, along with Scottish Planning Policy, will provide the basis upon which decisions on planning applications for new development will then be taken.
  • Taking informed decisions on planning applications for new waste management facilities and providing clear advice to developers and information to the public throughout this process.

Planning proactively for waste management is an exciting opportunity for land-use planners to help deliver significant environmental, energy and economic benefits for Scotland at the local and national level.

Government expects planners to seize this opportunity to see waste as a resource, not as a problem. Development Plans must adequately reflect the need for waste infrastructure. Plans must take account of infrastructure required to treat commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste, as well as municipal waste.

Annex E goes into detail on the role of land-use planning and waste management.

Question 6

To date, development plans have not always identified sites and/or locational criteria for waste management plants. What can be done to ensure that development plans do so in future?

1.11 Capacity planning

Article 14 of the revised Waste Framework Directive lays down that:

"in accordance with the polluter-pays principle, the costs of waste management shall be borne by the original waste producer or by the current or previous waste holders".

However, Government has responsibilities in relation to data and land-use planning. To help with land-use planning, and the preparation of development plans, the Government needs to consider what infrastructure will be required in the future to achieve a Zero Waste Scotland. Government is carrying out further work for the final Zero Waste Plan on what infrastructure Scotland requires to increase recycling and landfill diversion for all forms of controlled waste, especially in relation to commercial and industrial waste.

On data and planning, our long term aim is to develop online mapping facilities showing both infrastructure and waste and material flows. This is in line with recommendations made by the Zero Waste Think Tank. 3

In brief:

  • By 2025, Scotland will need infrastructure to collect, recycle and compost 70% of municipal waste (around 2.4 million tonnes). This will include recycling centres, transfer stations, Material Recovery Facilities ( MRFs, to process dry recyclates), composting facilities and anaerobic digestion facilities.
  • By 2025, Scotland should be treating no more than 25% of its municipal waste (no more than 850,000 tonnes) in energy from waste facilities.
  • By 2025, Scotland should be landfilling no more than 5% of its municipal waste (no more than 170,000 tonnes).
  • Government expects the need for landfill to continue to diminish. This means that infrastructure will be required to treat most of the 7.4 million tonnes we currently landfill. Clearly, every effort should be made to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first place.

SEPA have carried out analyses on the capacity of waste management plants and have prepared reports which contain information on: the numbers and types of licensed/permitted waste management facilities in Scotland; the tonnages of waste they handle in a given year and, where available, their licensed/permitted capacities. http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_data/site_capacity_infrastructure/national_capacity_reports.aspx

photo1.12 Waste regulation

SEPA is responsible for the enforcement of laws on waste made by Parliament, in line with EU obligations. The definition of waste is laid down by Article 3 of the revised Waste Framework Directive ( WFD).

"'waste' means any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard".

This definition cannot be changed by the Scottish Government or SEPA.

Waste management is one of the most intensely regulated industries across the world. The current legislative tools are viewed by many as restricting the opportunities to recover value from waste and reduce the opportunities to realise Zero Waste. This is mainly because the WFD was originally devised when waste management was a largely unregulated industry and a cautious and prohibitive approach to regulation was required.

However, the WFD has undergone whole-scale revision with the aim of establishing a regulatory system which supports Europe's wish to become a resource recovery society.

The main focus of waste regulation is and must remain the protection of the environment and human health. However, we must devise a regulatory system which allows us to achieve this at the same time as supporting industry's wish to develop the infrastructure and processes that will deliver Zero Waste.

Work has started through the joint SEPA and Scottish Government Better Waste Regulation Action Programme. The aim is to establish a practical and proportionate system for the licensing and regulation of waste management activities. This predates the revisions to the WFD. There is now an opportunity to do further work on standards which enable waste to be considered to be recovered so it can be used without waste legislative controls or where a substance that may be traditionally viewed as a waste can be reclassified as a by-product.

Annex F provides more details on the Better Waste Regulation Programme.

1.13 Waste crime

As a general rule, waste management activities must be carried out under appropriate authorisation, either under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 or the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000. Carrying out a waste management activity without such an authorisation, or otherwise than in accordance with its terms, is a criminal offence attracting, in summary cases, penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £40,000, and up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine should a case be heard on indictment.

The Environmental Crime Directive (2008/99/EC) was recently passed by the European Parliament and Council. This Directive lays down that the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste in ways which cause death or serious injury, or substantial damage to air, soil, water, animals or plants, are offences subject to criminal penalties which are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. It is the Government's view that the existing provisions of Scots law meet this requirement.

Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of waste on to land with no licence to accept waste. Fly-tipping affects the aesthetic appeal of an area, causes damage to the environment and can be a risk to human and animals. Illegal dumping and fly tipping can be reported to the Dumb Dumpers Stop Line on 0845 2 30 40 90 or by visiting www.dumbdumpers.org.

1.14 Implementation of the revised Waste Framework Directive

Scotland's new Zero Waste Plan will partially implement the revised WFD. Government will also be consulting, later this year, on a number of legislative proposals to implement the Directive. This is likely to involve changes to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 and the National Waste Management Plan for Scotland Regulations 2007.

1.15 Summary of key delivery actions

A summary of proposed actions on delivery is below. A full action plan is attached at Annex T.

Planned Delivery Actions:

Publish annual report on progress

Improve data, particularly in areas other than municipal waste

Review delivery bodies and identify key areas to help deliver Scotland's Zero Waste Plan

Improve planning system

Further research on capacity planning for waste infrastructure

Implement and further develop Better Waste Regulation Action Programme

Tackle waste crime

Consultation on legislative proposals to help implement the revised Waste Framework Directive