2.4 million tonnes of household waste was generated in Scotland in 2019, a slight increase from 2018.
The recently published Household Waste statistics from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also shows a slight increase in recycling.
More of a success story is the decrease in the amount of waste sent to landfill sites which has decreased by 26% but is still a significant 0.76million tonnes.
Commenting, Jo Zwitserlood, Head of Materials at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said:
“Recycling, is a real Scottish success story and is a simple daily step we all can take to build a more sustainable Scotland.
“Reducing the amount of waste we generate, and keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible through re-use and recycling, will help Scotland tackle the climate emergency.
“The most successful countries in the 21st century will move from a traditional ‘take, make and dispose’ model to a resource efficient, circular economy where materials that would have been waste, are now valued as a useful resource.
“It is therefore extremely encouraging to see a continued increase in the amount of household waste recycled, and the amount of waste going to landfill at its lowest since records began.
“With its globally ambitious circular economy strategy and investment in infrastructure that will extract maximum value from materials through remanufacturing and recycling, Scotland is well placed to realise the environmental and economic opportunities for our nation and its people.”
The carbon impact, a measure of the whole-life carbon impacts of waste, from resource extraction and manufacturing emissions, right through to waste management emissions, has been decreasing since 2011. In 2019 it was 5.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is the equivalent to 1.0 TCO2e per person.
The 2019 figures for Orkney are:
All the figures for Scotland can be accessed here: 2019 Household Waste Commentary
This table shows the Household waste generated for each person in Orkney
(tonnes per person)
(TCO2e per person)
When you compare the Orkney figures for recycling (18.8%)with those for Scotland as a whole (44.9%) you can see that Scotland has a long way to go and Orkney needs to up its game considerably.
These are figures for 2019. Recycling and waste disposal became a considerable problem during lockdown. Recycling facilities have not returned to pre-lockdown opening times with some still closed. For Orkney’s smaller islands it has been a very slow process to restart services. OIC Household Collection Service
The figures from SEPA also refer to ‘Other Diversion from Landfill’. This is waste that is not put in landfill or recycled – mostly incinerated – in 2019 that was 79% of the diverted waste.
The 454 thousand tonnes of Scottish household waste diverted from landfill in 2019 through incineration was 233 tonnes (106%) greater than in 2018, and 384 tonnes (547%) greater in 2011, excluding incinerator outputs that are landfilled.
When you consider that we are in a climate emergency which we can now clearly see the implications of for ourselves with an increase in severe weather and rising sea levels, our response as individuals needs to change – we need to do much more. And Local Authorities who manage the waste that we generate need to put much more effort into recycling. Those facilities need to be fully operational.
The carbon impact of our failure to tackle the issue of household waste is illustrated in this table which shows a worrying slowing down of this measurement.
Carbon impact of Scottish waste generated and managed 2011-2019 (TCO2e)
Reporter: Fiona Grahame