Publication - Progress report

Low Carbon Scotland - meeting the emissions reduction targets 2010-2022: report

Published: 21 Mar 2011
Directorate:
Energy and Climate Change Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9781780450803

Sets out the policies that are already in place to cut emissions and further proposals to enable Scotland to meet the annual emissions targets from 2010 to 2022.

148 page PDF

3.6 MB

148 page PDF

3.6 MB

Contents
Low Carbon Scotland - meeting the emissions reduction targets 2010-2022: report
8. Waste

148 page PDF

3.6 MB

8. Waste

8.1 Approximately 20 million tonnes of waste is produced each year in Scotland.

8.2 The Scottish Government is committed to reducing Scotland's local and global environmental impact by moving towards a Zero Waste Scotland. This involves valuing waste as a resource; encouraging reuse, recycling and recovery; and reducing the traditional reliance on disposal of waste in landfill. This has direct benefits as it avoids organic wastes breaking down in landfill sites and producing potent greenhouse gases but it has significant indirect benefits too as re-use, recycling and recovery reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing sector and displace use of fossil fuels.

8.3 By investing in infrastructure to reduce the proportion of waste sent to landfill, local authorities could save up to £170 million by 2020 over the cost of paying landfill tax.

Trends

  • International greenhouse gas emissions accounting methodology measures direct emissions from waste management as primarily those that come from landfill sites. This is mainly methane that is produced by decaying organic matter.
  • In 1990, Scottish emissions from waste management were 5.8 MtCO 2e. In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, these emissions had fallen to 2.8 MtCO 2e, a fall of more than 50% from 1990. The main reasons for this are that less waste is being sent to landfill and steps have been taken to reduce the impact of landfill gas in line with Landfill Directive 135 requirements. Figure 10 shows how the amount of waste sent to landfill has declined over recent years.

Milestones

  • Agree and implement measures to ban disposal of organic waste from landfill and require certain priority wastes to be sorted at source and collected separately or, as appropriate, treated after collection. Following analysis of the responses to the Zero Waste (Scotland) Regulations consultation, the Scottish Government intends to introduce secondary legislation during 2011.
  • Phased introduction of bans on materials that may be landfilled: food waste and dry recyclables from 2015; and all biodegradable waste by 2017.

Figure 10: Local Authority Collected Biodegradable Municipal Waste sent to landfill and total waste
to landfill, 1991 to 2009

Figure 10: Local Authority Collected Biodegradable Municipal Waste sent to landfill and total waste to landfill, 1991 to 2009

EU policies

8.4 Waste policy in Scotland sits within a framework of EU legislation. The main legislation is:

  • The European Union's Revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/ EC), which provides the EU Framework for the management of waste and lays down a number of provisions covering a variety of areas, including the definition of waste, the waste hierarchy, and re-use and recycling targets.
  • The Landfill Directive (1999/31/ EC), aims to prevent, or reduce as far as possible, negative effects on the environment from the landfilling of waste, by introducing stringent technical requirements for waste and landfills. The Directive also aims to reduce climate change impact by setting targets for the reduction of the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill. The targets are to reduce landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste to 75% of the 1995 baseline by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 35% by 2020. The Landfill Directive has been transposed in Scotland by the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003.

UK policies

8.5 In support of EU policy, the UK Government has imposed a tax on waste sent to landfill. In 201011 the tax is £48 per tonne but this is set to rise by £8 per year until at least 2014-15, at which point the level will be £80 per tonne.

8.6 The escalating landfill tax incentivises waste producers to reduce, re-use or recycle; or recover value from waste where waste production cannot be avoided.

Scottish policies

Zero Waste Plan

8.7 In June 2010, the Scottish Government published Scotland's Zero Waste Plan 136 which sets out its vision for a zero waste society. This vision is a Scotland where waste is seen as a resource with the vast majority of waste being sorted and recycled and minimal amounts of unsorted residual wastes being treated or disposed. Unlike previous plans which focused on municipal waste managed by local authorities (approximately 17% of Scotland's waste), the Zero Waste Plan sets out to deal with all of Scotland's waste - commercial and industrial waste as well as household waste.

8.8 Central to the Zero Waste Plan is the principle of the waste hierarchy as set out in the European Waste Framework Directive. The hierarchy identifies the prevention of waste as the highest priority, followed by reuse, recycling, recovery of other value (e.g. energy), with disposal as the least desirable option.

The Waste Hierarchy

The Waste Hierarchy

8.9 The waste hierarchy will guide our overall approach to managing Scotland's waste. While recycling performance continues to improve, we must also continue to pursue other treatment approaches to recover greater value from the resources we use.

8.10 The Zero Waste Plan sets out 22 actions across four areas: resource streams, economic opportunity, resource management, and education and awareness. These actions are not all reproduced here although many will have direct or indirect affects on reducing emissions, particularly by encouraging more sustainable consumption and, through more and better re-use and recycling of materials, displacement of emissions that would have occurred in Scotland or elsewhere in the world to produce and transport goods.

8.11 The area of the Zero Waste Plan which has the biggest potential to impact on greenhouse gas emissions from waste is the Scottish Government's intention to require that certain priority waste materials be sorted at source and collected separately or, as appropriate, treated after collection. The intention is that the following wastes should be collected separately:

  • Food waste, from households and business sectors, such as commercial kitchens, hospitality sector, food retailers and manufacturers.
  • Materials such as paper/card, metals, plastics, textiles and glass from households, commerce and industry.

8.12 Sorting and collecting materials separately will ensure that the maximum environmental and economic benefits can be gained from recycling or recovery. Achieving this will require amendments to existing statutory mechanisms and the Scottish Government consulted on the best approach to doing this between December 2010 and February 2011 137 . A summary of the consultation responses is available from Scotland's Zero Waste Plan web page 138 .

8.13 Supporting the change to require sorting and collection of separate materials will be the phased introduction of bans on materials that may be landfilled. The Zero Waste Plan sets out the Scottish Government's intention that food waste and dry recyclables be banned from landfill from 2015 and that all biodegradable waste be banned from landfill by 2017. Views on the practicalities associated with these landfill bans were sought in the recent consultation and the Scottish Government intends to bring forward regulations in 2011.

Energy from waste

8.14 Banning food waste then all biodegradable material from landfill will cut methane and other greenhouse gas emissions but will also present the potential to use that material to generate green energy, displacing use of fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas impacts.

8.15 The priority of the Zero Waste Plan is to treat resources as high up the waste hierarchy as possible by preventing, reusing or recycling resources wherever feasible. However, energy from waste also has an important role to play. In terms of the waste hierarchy it is ranked above landfill and has the potential to generate enough heat for 110,000 homes and power for 170,000 homes in Scotland. For energy from waste to be truly sustainable it should only be used for resource streams which cannot practicably offer greater environmental and economic benefits through reuse or recycling.

8.16 The Scottish Government plans to introduce new regulations in 2011 requiring separate collections of recyclable materials and food waste, and controlling inputs to energy from waste combustion plants. The new regulatory approach to energy from waste will ensure that waste materials which can be reused or recycled are not incinerated and will mean that unsorted waste will not be able to go directly for energy from waste without first being pre-treated. This will provide a second opportunity to remove recyclate missed at the source segregation stage and ensure that Scotland does not simply move from mass landfill to mass incineration. This new approach will apply to all resource streams, not just municipal waste.

Overall abatement from Waste policies and proposals

8.17 As shown in Table 15, measures contained in Scotland's Zero Waste Plan could result in an abatement of approximately 0.5 MtCO 2e by 2020.

Supporting and enabling measures

The Zero Waste Plan targets and data needs

8.18 The Zero Waste Plan sets targets for several aspects of waste management. These are detailed in full in Annex A of the Plan, but include:

  • recycling, composting and preparing for re-use targets for waste collected from households: 40%, 50%, 60% and 70% by 2010, 2013, 2020 and 2025 respectively - diverting waste from landfill;
  • recycling 70% of all waste by 2025 (including commercial and industrial waste); and
  • a target to reduce the quantity of total waste sent to landfill to a maximum of 5% by 2025.

8.19 In order to monitor progress towards these targets and the implementation of other aspects of the Zero Waste Plan and to help local authorities and businesses obtain reliable information on waste materials which could be prevented, reused, recycled or recovered, the Scottish Government and SEPA need to collect more robust and accurate information about waste arisings and management than they do at present. The full scope of the information required is set out in Annex A of the Zero Waste Plan and SEPA is currently in the process updating its Waste Data Strategy to address this 139 .

8.20 SEPA will focus attention, in particular, on improving the quality of commercial and industrial data. This will include making use of Regulations made under section 79 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, establishing a mandatory requirement for businesses receiving waste data requests from SEPA to complete them. This will be exercised in line with better regulation principles.

Zero Waste Scotland - creating an effective delivery model

8.21 The need for a unified Scottish waste programme was identified in responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on the Zero Waste Plan. In January 2010 action was taken to bring together seven previously separate waste and resource related programmes under one umbrella programme called Zero Waste Scotland 140 .

8.22 Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and provides a unified delivery programme supporting the implementation of Scotland's Zero Waste Plan. Zero Waste Scotland's activities include:

  • provision of advice on resource efficiency to business;
  • promotion of best waste and resource management practice;
  • waste education and awareness; and
  • waste management infrastructure capital investment support.

8.23 In addition, Zero Waste Scotland provides support for local authorities and takes the lead in promoting voluntary agreements with industry and commerce. Full details of Zero Waste Scotland's operating plan and programme of work are available on its website 141 .

Carbon metric for recycling

8.24 The Zero Waste Plan details several steps that the Scottish Government intends to take to promote high quality recycling. As well as the requirement for waste to be sorted and collected separately, the Scottish Government will introduce a carbon metric for waste to sit alongside the use of tonnage as a performance measure and target. Whilst there is no direct link with the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, the carbon metric will help waste holders to identify and prioritise the materials with the highest environmental benefit for recycling, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions, better environmental outcomes generally, and a more resource efficient economy.

8.25 The new metric will recognise that the production of different primary materials produce different levels of environmental impact and will value recyclate accordingly. One tonne of aluminium collected from the waste stream in Scotland will displace the need for primary production of aluminium in another part of the world and this will avoid a greater amount of greenhouse gases being released than, for example, recycling one tonne of paper.

8.26 The carbon metric will be applied to the local authority collected municipal waste stream first (2013 target) as this stream already reports the appropriate data. However, as data reporting from the commercial and industrial sectors improves, their performance will also be reported using the carbon metric.

8.27 Although some of the manufacturing emissions that will be displaced occur overseas, and therefore fall outside the scope of Scotland's statutory climate change targets, this approach underlines the Scottish Ministers' commitment to reducing Scotland's overall ecological footprint 142 .

Enabling powers in the Climate Change
(Scotland) Act 2009

8.28 As well as the powers to require the provision of waste data, detailed in paragraph 8.20, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 also gives the Scottish Ministers powers to make a variety of orders and regulations in relation to waste management and climate change:

  • Waste prevention and management plans
    Section 78 of the Act enables the Scottish Ministers to place a duty on businesses and public bodies to prepare formal waste prevention and management plans.
  • Facilities for deposit of recyclable waste
    Sections 80 and 81 enable the creation of regulations to require businesses and public bodies to provide recycling facilities.
  • Procurement of recyclate
    Section 82 enables the creation of regulations requiring a minimum percentage of recyclate or re-used materials in certain public and/or private sector procurement contracts.
  • Targets for reduction of packaging
    Section 83 gives the Scottish Ministers powers to set binding targets for overall reductions in packaging.
  • Deposit and return schemes
    Sections 84 to 87 allow the Scottish Ministers to set up and manage schemes that would require retailers to include a deposit as part of the price of products, to be refunded when packaging is returned for re-use.
  • Charges for carrier bags
    Section 88 enables Ministers to make regulations about charging by sellers of goods for the supply of carrier bags.

8.29 Although the Scottish Ministers have these powers, there are no plans to use them to make secondary legislation in the short-term. The Scottish Government's preference is to seek to achieve progress by voluntary means wherever possible rather than by regulation. Good examples of this are the Courtauld Commitment by the retail sector to cut its waste, and the commitment by the construction industry to halve waste sent to landfill.

8.30 The first phase of the Courtauld Commitment was successful in reducing packaging and food waste by 1.2 million tonnes between 2005 and 2010. The value of this avoided food and packaging waste is estimated at £1.8 billion and the emissions avoided amount to around 3.3 MtCO 2e.

8.31 The Halving Waste to Landfill commitment now has over 400 signatories from across the construction supply chain in the UK, who are collectively responsible for £30 billion of spend each year. By working with firms to set resource efficiency requirements in contracts, the commitment will divert over 1 million tonnes of waste from landfill and save more than £100 million.

Costs and benefits

8.32 In order to meet current EU and Scottish Government waste targets, more investment is required in collection, processing and treatment infrastructure but these costs will be more than offset by the saving made from not having to pay landfill taxes. Doing nothing would lead to additional costs above current spend on municipal waste managed by local authorities of £870 million between 2010 and 2020.

8.33 Investing in infrastructure to meet the 2020 60% recycling and composting target (high quality source-segregated recycling) will add approximately £700 million to the cost of local authority waste management. However, it will cost in the region of £170 million less to meet the Zero Waste targets than continuing to send unsorted waste to landfill. The Scottish Government will undertake a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment, including cost benefit analysis, in order to inform the development of the planned legislative measures to require separate collections of recyclate and food waste.

8.34 Implementing Zero Waste Plan measures will also result in additional benefits in areas such as energy and manufacturing. For example, resource efficiency in manufacturing of goods from recycled materials and displacement of fossil fuels through production of green energy from waste (heat and power) both result in emissions and financial savings.

The need for greater powers

8.35 Although the Scottish Government works with its partners in the UK Government and other Devolved Administrations to influence the UK position in EU negotiations, the Scottish Ministers would have a better platform to influence European waste policy and delivery were they able to negotiate directly within the EU.

8.36 Taxation has a fundamental influence on waste decisions. Greater flexibility to define a fiscal regime for Scotland would help align taxation regimes with Scotland's economic and environmental priorities - for example, landfill tax and the aggregates levy are currently set at UK level, although the UK Government has announced plans to devolve landfill tax powers to the Scottish Parliament.

8.37 Other areas where additional powers for Scotland could help to contribute to meeting climate change targets are the regulations covering excess packaging, to enable a more aggressive focus on packaging reduction, and the regulation of waste exports.

Table 15: Policies for reducing emissions from Waste

Policy package and description

EU, UK or Scottish policy?

Expected abatement (ktCO 2e) in 2020

Further information available from

All waste policies

521

Waste Framework Directive

EU Framework for the management of waste and lays down a number of provisions covering a variety of areas, including the definition of waste, the waste hierarchy, and re-use and recycling targets.

EU

Scottish Government, Waste policy in Scotland:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/
Topics/Environment/
waste-and-pollution/Waste-1

Landfill Directive

Includes targets for reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill - of 75% of the 1995 baseline by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 35% by 2020.

EU

SEPA landfill information and guidance:

http://www.sepa.org.uk/
waste/waste_regulation/landfill.aspx

Landfill Tax

Tax on active wastes in landfill rising on an £8 per year escalator rising to £80 per tonne by 2014-15.

UK

HM Revenue and Customs, Landfill Tax:
http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/
channelsPortalWebApp/
channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_
pageLabel=pageExcise_ShowContent&id=
HMCE_CL_001206&propertyType=document

Zero Waste Plan

  • Sorting waste and separate collection. Sorting and collecting specific wastes appropriately to ensure that the maximum environmental and economic benefits can be gained from recovering and recycling materials.

Landfill Bans

  • Ban on specific materials being landfilled - food waste and dry recyclables from 2015,
    all biodegradable waste by 2017.

Scottish

Table 16: Supporting and enabling measures for reducing emissions from Waste

Policy package and description

EU, UK or Scottish policy?

Policy or proposal?

Further information available from

Zero Waste Plan

Zero Waste Targets

  • Recycling, composting and preparing for re-use targets for waste collected from households: 40%, 50%, 60% and 70% by 2010, 2013, 2020 and 2025 respectively - diverting waste from landfill; and

Scottish

Policy

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/
Topics/Environment/waste-and-pollution/
Waste-1/wastestrategy

  • a target to achieve an overall recycling and composting level of 70% and 5% (maximum) landfill for the total Scottish waste arisings by 2025.

Scottish

Policy

Waste data collection

  • Collection of more robust and accurate data in order to monitor implementation and progress of waste management and reduction measures.

Scottish

Policy

SEPA Waste Data Strategy:

http://www.sepa.org.uk/
waste/waste_data.aspx

Zero Waste Scotland - Creating an Effective
Delivery Model

  • Creation of Zero Waste Scotland as an umbrella programme to provide a one stop shop for waste support services for local authorities, businesses,
    the third sector and communities.

Carbon metric for Recycling

  • The Scottish Government will introduce a carbon metric for waste to identify and prioritise the materials with the highest environmental benefit for recycling.

Scottish

Policy

Zero Waste Scotland:

http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/

Secondary Legislation under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

The Scottish Ministers have powers to make a variety of orders and regulations in relation to waste management and climate change. However, the Scottish Ministers' preference is to seek to achieve progress by voluntary means wherever possible.

Scottish

Proposal

Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
asp/2009/12/contents


Contact

Email: climate.change@gov.scot