Scotland's Zero Waste Plan

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan

Zero Waste Plan

This Zero Waste Plan is intended to create a stable framework that will provide confidence for the investment necessary to deliver a zero waste Scotland over the next 10 years. It does this by setting out a Mission and Vision for the long term. Within that context the Plan sets strategic directions in the key areas of activity for the medium term up to 5 years, with specific actions setting out immediate priorities.


To achieve a zero waste Scotland, where we make 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.


This vision describes a Scotland where resource use is minimised, valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills, and most waste is sorted into separate streams for reprocessing, leaving only limited amounts of waste to go to residual waste treatment, including energy from waste facilities.

A zero waste Scotland will:

  • be where everyone - individuals, the public and business sectors - appreciates the environmental, social and economic value of resources, and how they can play their part in using resources efficiently;
  • reduce Scotland's impact on the environment, both locally and globally, by minimising the unnecessary use of primary materials, reusing resources where possible, and recycling and recovering value from materials when they reach the end of their life;
  • help to achieve the targets set in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 of reducing Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050;
  • contribute to sustainable economic growth by seizing the economic and environmental business and job opportunities of a zero waste approach.

The principle of the waste hierarchy as set out in the European Waste Framework Directive is central to this vision. The hierarchy identifies the prevention of waste as the highest priority, followed by reuse, recycling, recovery of other value (eg, energy), with disposal as the least desirable option. 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.

A zero waste Scotland will be the result of strong national policy that will inform and enable local action. The Scottish Government, in close collaboration with key delivery partners and with support from the Zero Waste Scotland delivery programme, will enable local and targeted support to help different sectors improve their understanding and use of resources. Scottish Government will also work closely with Scottish Environment Protection Agency and local authorities to ensure that the regulatory framework and other regimes are enforced in ways that enable efficient resource use and recovery, particularly the need to plan and develop local infrastructure for the long term.

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