COP26 came to Glasgow. We’re in the midst of a pandemic the result of catastrophic biodiversity loss and a climate emergency.
And yet the simple things we can do as individuals and businesses in Scotland – we are just not doing enough of.
New figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) show that in 2020 the total amount of Scottish household waste recycled was 1.02 million tonnes, a decrease of 66,000 tonnes (6.1%) from 2019.
Ironically in a pandemic brought on by climate change many recycling centres closed or had very limited access. For lots of people this meant what they might have recycled was slung into the general household waste.
Commenting on the stats Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, said:
“Last month, the world came to Glasgow to agree global action on the climate emergency. The message was clear that together, as counties, companies, or communities – we all have a role to play.
“How we use resources in our homes, workplaces, public services and private sector can have a real impact on Scotland’s environment. Whilst It’s positive that for a ninth consecutive year we see a move from landfill, the latest data does reflect the realism of the public health emergency.
“What’s important is not the past, but what we do next. We’ve shown that by working together, we can rise to the challenge of a healthcare emergency.
“We need now to show that we can do this again in tackling the climate crisis.”
Orkney Household Waste Statistics 2020
|Other diversion |
Orkney Household waste generated and managed per person in 2020
|Carbon Impact (TCO2e|
In Scotland as a whole there was a reduction in the amount of some waste materials recycled, such as:
- construction and soils (reduction of 26,000 tonnes, 14.8%)
- composting of vegetal wastes (reduction of 17,000 tonnes, 5.7%)
There was an increase in the amount of other waste materials recycled, such as:
- glass wastes (15,000 tonnes, 14.4%)
- plastic wastes (8.3%, 5,000 tonnes)
Scottish Household waste recycled or reused by material 2011-– 2020 (tonnes)
The amount of Scottish household waste landfilled in 2020 was 660,000 tonnes, a reduction of 98,000 tonnes (13.0%) from 2019, and a reduction 794,000 tonnes (54.6%) from 2011. Not so much because we are generating less waste but that more is being incinerated.
The total quantity of waste incinerated in Scotland in 2020 was 1.26 million tonnes, an increase of 38,000 tonnes (3.1%) from 2019, and an increase of 855,000 tonnes (208%) from 2011.
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:
“There’s little doubt the disruption caused by the COVID_19 pandemic hit recycling efforts in 2020. In particular, the closure of recycling centres in many areas seems to have had the greatest impact.
“The good news is that the volume of materials collected for recycling at the kerbside increased, showing that there is a keen appetite to recycle more amongst householders.
“There was a huge collective effort from local authority staff in all departments, as well as private sector resource management companies, to keep the show on the road during the strictest lockdowns, and periods of heavy staff absence. This hard work was very much appreciated by the public. Without all of these efforts, the recycling rate may have been more severely affected.
“As we move out of the initial shock to services caused by the pandemic, we need to redouble our collective efforts to increase the national recycling rate, with improved infrastructure and continued engagement with householders.
Click on this link for 2020 Household Waste Statistics