Scotland’s 2021 landfill ban to be missed amid recycling ‘failures’

Council leaders have warned that a flagship target to ban the amount of waste going to landfill by 2021 is unlikely to be met.

The SNP implemented a 'zero waste' plan. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The SNP implemented a 'zero waste' plan. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Industry leaders say it underlines the “enormity” of the tack facing local authorities who are struggling with sufficient alternatives such as recycling and incineration.

The situation is at “crisis point” according to opposition parties who say that ministers have no plan to address the issue.

Ministers have set a target of ending the household “black bag” waste and a range of recyclable materials being buried in the ground.

But a report to the environment and economy board of local authority body Cosla warns this unlikely to be met.

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“As it stands it seems unlikely that the 2021 ban will be fully achievable,” the report adds.

There are now concerns that much waste may have to be exported to comply with the ban, on top of the 1.6 million tonnes of rubbish every year to England and further afield.

Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said: “This is a failure of the SNP to deliver on recycling targets.

“The SNP’s Zero Waste Plan set an interim target for 2013 of 50 per cent household recycling, but almost six years on Scotland is still falling short of this target, at only 45.6 per cent.

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“We are at crisis point here and we should be diverting material from landfill into reuse and recycling yet the government has no plan on how it is going to pull this back from the brink.”

Liberal Democrat environment spokeswoman Rebecca Bell said: “Scotland has made giant leaps in tackling the amount of waste we generate but it’s important that the Scottish Government does not shy away from this challenge at the last minute.”

Malcolm Todd, a waste industry consultant and former managing director of Shore Recycling, said: “It is no surprise that councils think they will struggle to meet this target, they are just being totally honest about the enormity of the task ahead.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The forthcoming ban on biodegradable municipal waste from landfill in Scotland remains an important part of our commitment to achieving a more circular economy.

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“We are aware of the challenges associated with the introduction of the ban and are working with Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Zero Waste Scotland, councils and the private sector to prepare for it.

“We will publish a waste markets study shortly which, along with the close co-operation of stakeholders, will help us identify any further actions we may need to take to ensure that Scotland is ready to deliver the ban.”