Role of incineration in the waste hierarchy - review: call for evidence

The call for evidence seeks your views and evidence relating to the review of the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy.

6. Topic 2: Management Options

In Scotland, the residual waste treatment options currently consist of:

  • 45 operational and 224 closed landfill sites.
  • Six incineration facilities which are permitted to accept municipal waste, with three in construction.

Several reports have suggested alternative residual waste treatment routes include:

  • MBT (as a pre-treatment to incineration in Scotland or to export).
  • Biostablisation (as a pre-treatment to landfill).

In July 2021, Zero Waste Scotland published a report, the Climate Change Impacts of Burning Municipal Waste in Scotland[16]. This suggested that incinerating municipal waste in Scotland resulted in 27% fewer emission than landfilling the same waste. The report also included a hypothetical scenario which suggested that biostabilisation of waste could result in lower emissions.

However, there are gaps in our knowledge about the feasibility of biostabilisation in Scotland. Zero Waste Scotland has commissioned research on this, but we would particularly welcome robust evidence around:

  • case studies of biostabilisation working well
  • the levels of biodegradability of the biostabilised waste
  • whether it is possible for biostabilised waste to achieve the (low) levels of biodegradability necessary to allow landfilling of this waste post 2025.[17]

In addition, there is a range of incineration technologies which may provide alternatives to traditional 'mass burn' technologies, and alternative outputs (e.g. syn gas, hydrogen) from these technologies which could reduce the carbon impacts of incineration.

Q10 What treatment options for residual waste should Scotland consider?

We are mindful that some rural and island communities may face particular challenges in treating the residual waste they produce. These challenges may arise due to the location of residual waste treatment options, as well as the small volumes of waste, relative to urban areas, that are generated in rural areas. We are therefore interested in evidence of emerging technologies or approaches which could work on a small scale to support such communities.

Q11 What emerging technologies are there for small scale residual waste treatment to support remote and island communities?



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