Stop, Sort, Burn, Bury - incineration in the waste hierarchy: independent review

Report and supporting documents relating to the Independent Review of the Role of Incineration in the Waste Hierarchy in Scotland.


The Review's Recommendations are summarised here for ease of reference, but should be considered in the context both of the discussion around them in the Report and of the Report as a whole.

Recommendation 1: Scottish Government should rapidly seek further reductions in the proportion of recyclable materials in the residual waste stream. It should do this in the forthcoming Route Map.

Recommendation 2: The Scottish Government should develop better waste management data, especially around the composition of all types of waste and the arisings and fate of commercial and industrial waste, and improve its capacity to model future trends across the whole resource and waste management system. The forthcoming Route Map should set out how the Scottish Government will do this.

Recommendation 3: Industry, local authorities and the Scottish Government should do more to make data around waste in general, and around incineration in particular, more transparent and accessible for all stakeholders. This should be done alongside development and implementation of the Route Map.

Recommendation 4: Effective immediately, the Scottish Government should ensure that no further planning permission (i.e. beyond that already in place) is granted to incineration infrastructure within the scope of this Review unless balanced by an equal or greater closure of capacity. The only exceptions to this should be those outlined in Recommendation 10.

Recommendation 5: As part of an overall strategic approach to planning and deploying waste management capacity (see Recommendation 11), the Scottish Government should develop an indicative cap that declines over time for the amount of residual waste treatment needed as Scotland transitions towards a fully circular economy.

Recommendation 6: When negotiating contracts for residual waste management treatment, local authorities should specifically address the risks of lock-in and ensure those contracts are aligned with meeting Scotland's current and future targets on resource and waste management.

Recommendation 7: The most feasible treatment options to manage Scotland's residual waste are incineration, landfill and export of waste. Scottish Government should work with local authorities to ensure they have a solution to manage their residual waste in 2025 based on this.

Recommendation 8: As part of the strategic approach referred to in Recommendation 11, Scottish Government and Local Authorities should ensure that adequate time and resource is dedicated to local and community engagement.

Recommendation 9: Operators of all residual waste treatment facilities should work to significantly strengthen community engagement and trust before, during and after development. Clear guidelines for authentic and effective community engagement should be co-produced by Scottish Government with community groups and local authorities by the end of 2023.

Recommendation 10: Scottish Government should urgently work with local authorities in remote and rural areas of Scotland without a settled residual waste management solution to meet the Ban to explore options that might, if fully justified, lead to the creation of a small amount of additional capacity.

Recommendation 11: Scottish Government and local authorities should work with industry to develop a strategic approach to planning and deploying waste collection, reprocessing and management facilities by the end of 2023, which takes account of the key issues. The Scottish Government should consider how best to incorporate this into the proposed fourth National Planning Framework.

Recommendation 12: The Scottish Government should report greenhouse gas emissions from incineration separately from other energy-related emissions as soon as possible, ideally from the 2021 data onwards.

Recommendation 13: (Provisional) The Scottish Government should immediately strengthen existing requirements for pre-treatment and work with local authorities and industry to apply them to all existing and future incineration facilities to remove as much recyclable material as feasible, with a particular focus on plastics.

Recommendation 14: (Provisional) The Scottish Government and local authorities should continue to work with industry to deploy combined heat and power for as many existing incineration facilities as possible.



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