Scottish waste policy

6th August 2013 Posted by

Scotland is gearing up for the implementation of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 with a strong communications and awareness-raising drive. From 1 January 2014, local authorities and businesses will be required to comply with new legal duties relating to the separate collection of dry recyclables and of food waste, and further treatment of residual waste before it is sent for energy recovery or landfill. Add in landfill bans for separately collected recyclates and eventually for biodegradable municipal waste, and Scotland is, in policy terms, emulating the more progressive countries in Northern Europe, where these types of policies have been in place for over two decades. At the very least they can be regarded as tidying-up measures, rectifying the lopsided development of waste policy in the UK which hitherto has concentrated almost exclusively on the municipal sector. SITA UK has long argued, for example, for the same rules requiring the separate collection of recyclates and of residual waste to be applied to businesses as are mandated for households.

The contrast between the Scottish government’s willingness to lead from the front and England’s ultra-cautious, timid approach to waste policy cannot be greater. Zero Waste Scotland’s director Iain Gulland sees these measures as essential to underpin a viable zero waste / circular economy. Defra’s ongoing consultation on its draft waste management plan for England is more concerned with maintaining the status quo, asking: “Do you agree that there are likely to be no additional burdens for businesses, consumers and local authorities from the adoption of the Plan?” Scotland sees its new measures as laying the foundation for a resource-efficient and resource-resilient domestic economy, while England has discounted these measures, seeing them purely as a cost to the economy. Scotland is steering its circular economy from the driving seat, England chooses to take a passive role as a passenger, leaving it to businesses to work things out for themselves.

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