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For How Much Longer Will There be Landfilling in Scotland?

Date: 07/11/2018 | Environmental

There has been much in the press recently about the reduction in the amount of waste in Scotland that is sent to landfill. All of that represents a positive trend in the way in which waste is being managed as encouraged by ambitious Scottish Government policy, including the 2025 target of a maximum of 5% of waste being sent to landfill. As some of these policy measures start to take hold, how will the face of waste management in Scotland change?

Over the last 10 months or so, the waste industry (and beyond) has woken up to the fact that the landfill ban on biodegradable municipal waste (“BMW”), legislated for in 2012, will be implemented on 1st January 2021.  In advance of that date, there is still much for those who produce, collect, manage, transport and dispose of BMW to consider:

  • Local authorities who have yet to determine what they will do with their BMW need to find an alternative disposal route which does not involve landfill;
  • The size of the capacity gap, resulting from the fact that there will not, come 1st January 2021, be enough energy from waste infrastructure within Scotland to deal with the tonnages produced, has yet to be firmly established. The Scottish Government are reviewing the results of their recently commissioned independent research on that very issue. If recycling rates continue to improve, the gap may reduce but not significantly within the next two years;
  • It is yet unclear where the excess waste that cannot be dealt with in Scotland will ultimately end up. That depends on a number of factors including: the capacity in England for landfilling and/or incineration (or similar); the position of export markets and whether Scotland intends to become self-sufficient in dealing with its waste in the longer term;    
  • How will existing landfill operators cope with the required changes to their business models, indeed will they remain in operation? Some have already expressed that it will not be feasible to do so.

It is clear that the next couple of years will be pivotal for the waste industry and all those who rely on that industry in Scotland. This is a specialist area in respect of which Davidson Chalmers have significant experience – please get in touch with Laura Tainsh if you require advice on any aspect of waste and resource management.

The matter in this publication is based on our current understanding of the law.  The information provides only an overview of the law in force at the date hereof and has been produced for general information purposes only. Professional advice should always be sought before taking any action in reliance of the information. Accordingly, Davidson Chalmers LLP does not take any responsibility for losses incurred by any person through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this publication.

Written by

LAURA TAINSH | Davidson Chalmers Stewart
Laura Tainsh

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