Scotland rubbish at recycling to judge by landfill sites
MORE than half of the rubbish thrown away by schools, hospitals and shops in Scotland could be recycled, a new report has found.
The study highlights that valuable resources are being sent to landfill sites with more than 50 per cent of the almost 400,000 tonnes of waste discarded by the three sectors each year having the potential to be used again.
Instead, businesses, hospitals, schools and universities are unnecessarily paying millions of pounds of landfill tax from their budgets each year, the report for Zero Waste Scotland claims.
The biggest untapped resources came in the form of paper and card, which can be recycled and used again.
Uneaten food made up about a third of the total amount of waste by weight.
The report, The Composition of Mixed Waste from Scottish Retail, Education and Health and Social Work Businesses, is the first detailed analysis of commercial, rather than household, waste in Scotland.
The study found that:
n The retail sector, including supermarkets, motor and wholesale businesses, produced 180,370 tonnes of mixed waste each year. Of this, a third could be widely recycled, and 58 per cent was potentially recyclable.
n The education sector, which included all education establishments from pre-primary up to university, chucked out 85,120 tonnes of mixed waste each year. Of this, a third could be recycled easily, and 53 per cent was potentially recyclable.
n The health sector, which included hospitals and social work facilities, disposed of 106,570 tonnes each year. Of this, 28 per cent could be widely recycled and 60 per cent was potentially recyclable.
Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “While many businesses already recycle much of their waste, there are still valuable materials ending up in landfill.
“Given these findings, it is clear that new waste regulations could boost our economy by getting valuable materials out of landfill and into productive uses.
“Also, reducing waste in the first place is a quick, easy win for businesses. Simple actions like avoiding food waste could save businesses in our motor, wholesale and retail sector £30 million per annum, that’s an average of £800 for every business.”
Exodus Research, which carried out the study, analysed the waste thrown out by 681 businesses, and carried out telephone interviews with a further 1,053.
The report concludes that the £20m in landfill tax paid by businesses across all three sectors last year for disposing of more than 372,000 tonnes of mixed waste could have been reduced by recycling more.
The Scottish Government has targets of recycling 70 per cent of all waste by 2025, with a maximum of 5 per cent sent to landfill.
New Waste (Scotland) Regulations – passed by the Scottish Parliament in May – will require all businesses north of the Border to separate all paper and card, plastic, metal, and glass for recycling by 2014 and food by 2016.
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