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Zero Waste Q&A

Food Waste & Separate Collection

Q. Does the requirement for separate collections for food waste and recyclables apply to all households?

A. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 require separate collections for food waste and recyclables. This will apply to commercial and industrial premises as well as collection of household waste by local authorities. It is recognised that in certain instances it may not be practical to collect food waste from every household, and the legislative measures will need to offer an element of flexibility in this area. Additionally, the Scottish Government recognise that for some local authorities collecting food waste co-mingled with garden waste may be a more appropriate solution. It will, however, be for individual authorities to demonstrate why a co-mingled approach is preferable.

Q. Whendoes the legislation requiring separate collections of food waste and recyclables come into effect?

A. Businesses need to present recyclables (ie metal, plastic, glass, paper and card) for separate collection since 1 January 2014. Food businesses (except in rural areas) which produce over 50kg of food waste per week also have to present that food waste for separate collection since 1 January 2014. For such businesses producing between 5 abd 50kg of food waste per week, the requirement wil apply from 1 January 2016.  Any metal, plastic, glass, paper, card and food collected separately for recycling is banned from going to incineration or landfill since 1 January 2014

Q. Does the Scottish Government continue to allow co-mingled collection?

A. The Scottish Government believes that separating waste types at the kerbside or point of collection is the most efficient way of minimising contamination between different wastes, and maximising the value that can be recovered from each waste. However, the Scottish Government recognises the European Commission's opinion that while separate collection of different wastes at source is the preferred option, co-mingled collection of different waste streams for separate recycling later in the process may be acceptable, provided that the quality of the final recycled materials meets the necessary quality standards.

Q. Will co-mingled collection of green and food waste be acceptable?

A. As a minimum, food waste will need to be collected separately from non-organic residual waste. Where collection methodologies are being considered, either single-stream source-segregated food waste collection, or co-mingled collection of source-segregated food waste along with garden waste will be acceptable. However, there are significant benefits in collecting source-segregated food waste alone including:

(a) greater versatility in post-collection treatment options;
(b) greater versatility for controlling the carbon and nitrogen content of the treatment feedstock;
(c) lower risk of treatment feedstock being contaminated with other materials such as packaging; and
(d) greater potential added-value in terms of energy production potential from the subsequent treatment of the bio-waste.

In considering future collection methodologies and infrastructure, it is also important that long term investment decisions are not solely driven by current practices. Waste managers should adopt a flexible approach in order that technological advances can be accommodated.

Carbon Metric

Q. When will the Carbon Metric be introduced and how will it be applied?

A. Scottish Government intends to finalise details of the carbon metric and produce guidance on how it will be applied before the end of the year. Scottish Government has established a task and finish group to assist in this process. The 2013 target of recycling 50% of all waste will be the first target that will be measured on the basis of the carbon metric.

Q. Who serves on the carbon metric task and finish group?

A. The task and finish group has cross sector representation and includes representatives from Scottish Government, SEPA, industry, local authorities, and COSLA.

Q. Will the carbon metric be used to inform decisions about collection and treatment methods for waste and resources?

A. Scottish Government envisages that the carbon metric will help decision makers in prioritising what are the most valuable materials to recycle. This will no doubt have a bearing on the choice of collection and treatment methods.

Re-use and Reduction targets

Q. Will targets for the "reduction" of household waste, "re-use" of waste and "preparing for re-use" be developed?

A. As set out in Safeguarding Scotland's Resources- Blueprint for a More Resource Efficient and Circular Economy, we have set a target to reduce waste arising by 7% against the 2011 baseline of 13.24 million tonnes. Our longer term vision is to achieve a 15% reduction by 2025

Waste market capacity

Q. Will Scottish Futures Trust or Scottish Government take action to control the number of infrastructure projects brought to the market, particularly for residual waste treatment capacity, to ensure that the waste sector has sufficient capacity to respond and deliver?

A. It is for local authorities to decide when to bring new waste infrastructure projects to the market. However, both Scottish Futures Trust and Scottish Government recognise the potential for a constraint in overall market capacity to respond to such procurements. Scottish Futures Trust is taking action through its local authority waste procurement forum to ensure that all local authorities considering new waste treatment projects are aware of competing demands on the waste sector, so that decisions to start procurements are made on an informed basis.

Recycling rate calculations

Q. Where local authorities collect household and some commercial waste together, how is the household recycling rate to be calculated?

A. The Scottish Government and SEPA have established a task and finish group with local authority membership to consider how to improve estimates of the amount of commercial waste collected by local authorities. This work will cover situations where local authorities have combined domestic and commercial waste collection rounds.

Q. Will moisture lost through residual waste treatment processes count towards recycling targets where the outputs are disposed of to either landfill or incineration?

A.  The Scottish Government does not consider that such losses should be classified as recycling.

Q. What exactly will count towards recycling targets under the Zero Waste Plan and Waste Framework Directive?

A. The Scottish Government is working with SEPA to produce guidance which will set out exactly what will count towards recycling targets. This guidance will be published before the end of 2010. Annex A to the Zero Waste Plan explains that it is likely that compost-like outputs from mechanical biological and similar treatment processes will be classified as recovery and not recycling when spread on land under exemption or waste management licence. Similarly, bottom ash from incinerators and aggregate type material from mechanical treatment of waste which is put to beneficial use is likely to be classified as a recovery activity rather than recycling.

On the other hand it is likely that metals recovered from EfW processes will count towards recycling, however this will be covered in the guidance.

Energy from waste

Q. How long will the 25% cap on municipal waste going to energy from waste facilities remain in force, and when are the new regulatory measures likely to be introduced?

A. The 25% cap on municipal waste will be replaced with a package of measures, including landfill bans, mandatory segregation of certain waste types, a limit on the biodegradable content of waste that can be landfilled, and restrictions on the materials that may be input to incinerators.

The 25% cap will be replaced once the legislation controlling the inputs to EfW combustion plants has come into force. Scottish Government envisages that the new legislative measures will be introduced during 2011.

Q. Annex A to the Zero Waste Plan states that guidance on the 25% cap is to be made available. When will this guidance be published?

A. The guidance on the current 25% cap will be published very shortly.


Q. Does Scottish Government intend to reintroduce targets and penalties under the Landfill Allowance Scheme?

A. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment has made clear that penalties and trading under the scheme are suspended until 2011. Whilst a final decision has yet to be made by Scottish Ministers, it is likely that the Landfill Allowance Scheme will be revoked once the new legislative measures to regulate waste to landfill are implemented.

Scottish Government does not anticipate the need for penalties in the future. The statutory measures being proposed under the Zero Waste Plan will drive the required change and should ensure that future waste targets are met.

Q. The research on landfill bans identified that out of the residual waste treatment options modelled, Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) with output waste sent to landfill provided the highest net benefit to society. Doesn't this contradict Scottish Government's aspirations to reduce landfill to 5 % by 2025?

A. The landfill bans research does indeed suggest that stabilised MBT outputs sent to landfill perform better in terms of short-term costs to society. However, the Zero Waste Plan takes a wider, long-term view in order to achieve a fundamental shift in how waste is viewed and managed in Scotland. Zero Waste means making the most efficient use of resources by minimising Scotland's demand on primary resources, and maximising the reuse, recycling and recovery of resources instead of treating them as waste. Disposing of any materials to landfill is wasteful and should be avoided wherever possible.

Planning issues

Q. Is Scottish Government content for Development Plans to set out locational criteria for waste management infrastructure rather than identifying allocated sites?

A. Planning policies are set out in Scottish Planning Policy. Roles and responsibilities in the land use planning system in respect to the delivery of waste management infrastructure are explained in Annex B to the Zero Waste Plan, and together these support the identification of specific sites where this can be achieved. Where locational criteria are necessary they should be unambiguous, support Zero Waste Plan policy; and not require further interpretation.

Q. Can Scottish Government clarify the relationship between National Planning Framework 2, Scottish Planning Policy and the Zero Waste Plan?

A. National Planning Framework 2 is a statutory strategy for Scotland's long term spatial development. Scottish Planning Policy is the statement of Scottish Government's policy on nationally important land use planning matters. Scottish Government will issue clarification soon to planning authorities on a number of matters arising from Zero Waste Plan actions, including the new approach which will replace area waste plans.