Solar and storage exports see 'exponential' growth as role of flexibility stressed

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

Exports of battery storage and solar PV have seen “exponential” growth as weather independent generation falls to less than 40%, according to data compiled by ElectraLink and the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

Exports to GB distribution networks from battery storage rose from 50MWh in 2014 to almost 49GWh in 2018. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 600% increase in battery exports.

Solar PV also saw a significant increase in exports, according to the data, rising from 194GWh in 2012 to 8TWh in 2018.

The increase in solar exports, with both conventional solar and solar that behaves unusually, likely due to co-location, recorded. Image: ElectraLink/REA

The increase in solar exports, with both conventional solar and solar that behaves unusually, likely due to co-location, recorded. Image: ElectraLink/REA

Exports across renewable technologies as a whole seem to have seen substantial growth. ElectraLink’s data also found that exports from dispatchable sources has fallen from 60% in 2012 to 40% in 2018.

Exports from dispatchable and variable generation between 2012 and 2018. Image: ElectraLink/REA

Exports from dispatchable and variable generation between 2012 and 2018. Image: ElectraLink/REA

The data, taken from ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub, highlights the increasing need for flexibility assets, as well as for distribution network operators (DNOs) to transition to distribution system operators (DSOs), the REA said.

However, the DSO transition still has a “long way to go”, with the latest RIIO-2 price controls set to shape the transition, according to panelists at Current±'s EnTech conference last week.

The data comes in a week where renewables’ contribution to the UK’s electricity mix has been particularly celebrated, with research from Carbon Brief finding that renewables generated more than fossil fuels for the first time in Q3 of this year.

Renewables have been steadily breaking records with each new quarter. In Q2 of this year, renewables overtook nuclear generation, producing 23.1TWh of power. Coal free stretches have been common, particularly over the spring and early summer when high levels of solar and wind contributed to keeping coal off the grid for a landmark two weeks.

Official statistics released from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that renewables had a record-breaking year in 2018, generating 110TWh collectively.

Daniel Brown, policy manager at the REA, said the data released by ElectraLink and the REA will hopefully add “timely nuance” to the debate taking place around flexibility markets, subsidy-free renewables and energy storage deployment.

Paul Linnane, head of energy market insight for ElectraLink, said: What we’ve found in the data is an unprecedented view of where embedded generation is going in contributing to the energy mix.

“An exponential increase like this cannot be ignored as networks plan for more solar PV to be connected, and especially with the uptake of electric vehicles.”

Further data is to be released in the Flexible Futures report on 24 October.

Market supports more EfW plants, says Viridor

Viridor has said that it is “analysing opportunities” for three new Energy from Waste (EfW) plants in the UK, claiming that the market supports more facilities.

The remark from the waste management firm came in its 2019 sustainability report, which was released on Friday (October 4).

The report explained that 2018 saw Viridor’s EfW plants in Glasgow, Beddington and Dunbar become operational, while its plant in Avonmouth is due for completion in 2020/21.

Viridor EfW Runcorn

Inside Viridor’s Runcorn EfW, which is the largest in the UK

Viridor said these Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs) were the “culmination of an ambitious £1.5 billion of ERF investment, to build 11 plants across the UK”, and said plans are afoot to expand this.

Last month , the company unveiled plans to join with Grundon to develop an EfW in West Sussex (see story).

The report said: “We believe the market supports another phase of ERF development and are analysing opportunities for three new ERFs and for energy parks that would be able to service a range of energy-intensive facilities.”

The news from Viridor come amid a growing debate over energy from waste capacity in the UK, with many in the industry pointing towards a capacity gap (see story), while some corners of government and pressure groups are firmly against additional plants (see story).


“In recycling, the market dynamics are favourable with the ‘Blue Planet’ effect prompting interest and action from consumers, businesses, the public sector and governments alike.”

Phil Piddington, Viridor

Looking back over the 2018/19 financial year, Viridor said that its portfolio had delivered £155 million of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), and recorded a 90% availability record in its EfW portfolio.

Viridor’s 2019 report highlights its investments in the industry, explaining it committed to a new £65 million plastics recycling facility, to be located at its Avonmouth site.

The plant will handle multi-stream plastics and produce 80,000 tonnes of recycled plastic pellets which will be sold to manufacturers of new products.

Viridor said it is also investing £15 million to refurbish its Mason’s materials recycling facility near Ipswich, serving Suffolk county council and its residents and partners.


In terms of future objectives, Viridor said it would like to demonstrate leadership in minimising emissions that contribute to climate change and developing climate change adaption strategies.

This is alongside plans to ensure it has a “positive economic, social and environmental impact and continuous positive action to prevent pollution”.

Commenting on the report, Phil Piddington, managing director of Viridor, said: “I am pleased to report another year of excellent progress across our UK recycling and waste operations. In recycling, the market dynamics are favourable with the ‘Blue Planet’ effect prompting interest and action from consumers, businesses, the public sector and governments alike.

“Our business activity supports growth of a regenerative circular economy that seeks to keep resources in economic use for as long as possible and to recover and regenerate materials and low-carbon energy at the end of their service life.”

The report outlines Viridor’s progress and performance in the 2018/19 financial year

Useful links: 

Viridor Sustainability Report

New investment to support Aberdeen’s hydrogen ambitions

Hydrogen double decker bus

Hydrogen double decker bus

A contract has been awarded to develop a business case which will explore the development of a sustainable and commercial supply of hydrogen in Aberdeen and create a model which can be adopted by other Scottish cities.

Element Energy will assist with the study, allowing Aberdeen to continue to build on its reputation as a centre of excellence for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Working with Aberdeen City Council previously on the existing bus projects and new JIVE projects, Element Energy will also identify as part of the study potential locations for a hydrogen hub in addition to outlining the strategic, economic, financial and commercial objectives whilst determining the opportunities to seek private investment in the hydrogen market.

The £100,000 study is jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council (with support from the EU’s Interreg Hytrec2 project), Opportunity North East and Scottish Enterprise. The commitment of the three partners demonstrates the city’s ambitions to embrace the future of hydrogen.

A presentation of the business case was made at this week’s supply chain conference, held as part of Aberdeen’s Hydrogen Festival.

Gigafactories, fusion plants and other political fancies

Image: Conservative Party.


Image: Conservative Party.

In case you’ve missed it – and jealousy abounds if you have – it’s political party conference season in the UK. Because if there’s one thing this country hasn’t had enough of over the past year, it’s politics.

For the uninitiated or readers outside of the UK, late September and early October usually sees parliament prorogued for political machinations the country’s political parties to gather and settle their agendas for the forthcoming year. The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have all now taken to the stage, with clean energy playing a pivotal role.

First up were the Liberal Democrats, whose conference was in Bournemouth this year. Climate has long been a strong consideration within Lib Dem policy making and this year is no different, even if the party is going for a distinctly vintage feel this year.

Having lost out to Jo Swinson for the leadership, Sir Ed Davey is the party’s shadow energy minister a little over four years after he last served as the country’s energy secretary as part of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government. So it’s of little surprise then that the Lib Dems are inclined to reinstate a specific department for climate change. Perhaps Ed feels there’s some unfinished business there.

The Lib Dems, whose membership play a central, voting role in policy making, have also endorsed a more ambitious net zero policy than the status quo. The party passed a motion to bring the date forward to 2045 “at the latest”, with interim targets for a 75% reduction by 2030 and 93% by 2040.

But that target is, in effect, only the tip of an ever-decreasing iceberg. The party goes into real detail within its motion, which can be seen in full here. Its power proposals are specific and progressive, perhaps the most complete of all three major parties. It calls for 80% of electricity generation to derive from renewables sources by 2030, a commitment to develop smart grids, energy storage and interconnectors, a requirement for all new homes to be fitted with solar panels and a ban on the sale of ICE vehicles to come into effect in 2030.

The ambition and detail underpinning the Lib Dem climate strategy is unquestionably promising amidst the dearth elsewhere, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Under the Clegg/Cameron coalition, the Department of Energy and Climate Change was very much Lib Dem territory and decisions made with Davey at the helm paved the way for much of the renewables deployment seen today.

Labour, meanwhile, proposed to take things further. Huge investments in offshore wind and electric vehicle infrastructure aside, the most eye-catching development from Labour’s conference in Brighton was the approval of a net zero by 2030 target.

At some 20 years ahead of the status quo, it’s difficult to overstate the level of ambition here. The Committee on Climate Change’s advice to government has been that even the 2050 target it proposed is futile without significant policy overhaul. To bring that forward by 20 years would require comprehensive behavioural and societal change, the likes of which is almost entirely unprecedented. To not then substantiate that target with a clear and precise raft of policies – chucking in a load more offshore wind farms, investing in EV charging infrastructure and establishing some car sharing hubs does not a complete environmental policy suite make – is foolhardy at best, and disingenuous at worst.

Speaking of foolhardy and disingenuous, Boris Johnson took to the stage just over a week later in typically bombastic fashion.

For their part, the Conservatives had spent much of the week saying how imperative it was they “Get Brexit Done”. What little attention the government did grant to climate issues was mired in catch phrases like “21st Century Conservativism” and was, simply, lacking in any meaningful detail.

£1 billion in R&D funding was pledged for the automotive sector to pursue “green growth”, aimed specifically at battery manufacturing and other parts for electric vehicles. That’s all well and good, but I think I’m correct in suggesting that the UK’s domestic automotive sector has more prescient business decisions to make at this moment in time, and £1 billion for R&D barely constitutes a gentle nudge compared to the almighty kick up the arse transport needs when it comes to decarbonisation. Ofgem yesterday revealed transport emissions have fallen just 2% between 2010 and 2018.

A Future Homes Standard is, again, to be welcomed. Reducing emissions from new-build homes by 31% by 2025, as the government’s preferred option suggests, is not to be sniffed at. But the policy itself barely scratches the sides when it comes to the kind of overhaul the built environment needs if the UK is to stand any chance of attaining net zero status by 2050. It’s almost as if, in desperate need of something that wasn’t Brexit, the Conservatives had a dig behind the sofa and found Labour’s Zero Carbon Homes policy from 2006, which George Osborne axed in 2015, but thought even that was too radical for its audience these days so watered it down.

Fear not, climate conscious, because here’s Boris Johnson, doubling down on the Conservatives’ commitment to climate issues during his leader’s speech on Wednesday afternoon. Just like we’re expected to believe in Britain to get Brexit done, we should trust the party’s record on environmental issues and believe that the net zero target is achievable. “We can beat the sceptics,” Johnson said. Penny for the thoughts of the PM’s illustrious Leader of the House of Commons at the moment, considering how Rees-Mogg has continually conveyed some pretty frank climate scepticism.

Then there’s Johnson’s pledge that a battery ‘gigafactory’ will be built on these shores. For those who thought that the Bridge to Ireland was the PM’s “jumping the shark” moment when it came to fanciful infrastructure should look away. The notion that a private company would invest billions into building a battery factory with gigawatts of capacity in a nation whose trading arrangements are anything but certain is, frankly, ludicrous.

But it wasn’t even the most fanciful energy-related pledge from the Conservatives this party conference season. That award goes to whoever considered that £200 million would be enough to stimulate the development of a fully-functional fusion plant in the UK by 2040. That, as others have suggested, is just pure fantasy.

And, after that, conference season was over. Politicians packed up and returned to Westminster after a brief and legally-curtailed respite. Back to Getting Brexit Done, and not much else, for the government.

If there’s anything to draw from party conference season this year, it’s that the full gravity of the situation – across so, so many points – has yet to dawn on the Prime Minister. The net zero target, amongst Theresa May’s last acts in office, now counts among the many albatrosses swinging from Boris’ brass neck. Policy direction needs to be much sharper, much more detailed and considerably more ambitious if it is to get anywhere near the level the CCC has previously asked for.

From the last two weeks, however, there’s little evidence that anything past 31 October 2019 is on the government’s calendar.

EfW Capacity Concern

30 SEPTEMBER 2019by Steve Eminton

Council officers raise concerns over EfW capacity

Local authority waste management officers have raised concerns about the lack of sufficient energy from waste capacity in the UK.

The concerns come in the wake of Dutch Parliament plans to levy a 32 Euros per tonne tax on municipal waste sent by local authorities to the Netherlands from 1 January 2020 (see story).

The officers are members of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) and they note that the UK lacks sufficient energy from waste capacity for municipal waste.

RDF exports to Holland could face a tax of 32 Euros per tonne

However, a number of the authorities now concerned about future RDF costs – such as West Sussex – have actually been against construction of energy from waste plants within their boundaries in the past, preferring to send waste for energy recovery outside of their own area.

In a newly-published statement and policy paper, the council officers urge Dutch MPs not to support the idea of a tax, “because it would limit or stop export of the waste in the form of Refuse Derived Fuel from the UK”.

They say: “Our concern is for the following reasons: Any such move would immediately limit or preclude further export of material from our members. The UK lacks sufficient Energy from Waste (EfW) infrastructure to recover energy from all municipal waste generated meaning that in the short and medium term the default option would be landfill.” Other reasons given by ADEPT include the fact that landfill will cost more than RDF.


The officers argue that a move to more landfilling would be counterproductive environmentally, in increasing total greenhouse gas emissions. ADEPT states: “Landfill of any organic fraction is significantly more polluting than EfW.”

ADEPT has sent its position paper to the Netherland Parliament’s Vaste Commissie voor Infrastructuur en Waterstaat (Commission for Waste, Public Works and Water Management) ahead of a roundtable meeting on the 1st October 2019.

They write: “We would respectfully call for Members of Parliament to consider the overall impact of this proposal from a transboundary and global perspective and, at the very least, pause the process for a full Environmental and Financial Impact Assessments to be made. If the changes are to go forwards we would urge that longer notice is given so that alternative arrangements can be made which can mitigate these very real impacts.”

CASE STUDY: West Sussex and incineration/RDF

West Sussex is typical of one UK local authority having to export RDF because it did not want an energy from waste plant in its own area. Steve Read, who joined the county two year’s ago is both its director of environment and public protection and the lead officer on RDF exports for the ADEPT Waste Panel.

On the Dutch situation and problems that the tax might cause, Mr Read said: “The underlying issue is the lack of waste disposal capacity in the UK. While market forces – and increased recycling – are expected to continue to correct this over the next few years, export of RDF has provided a solution with a significantly lower carbon impact than landfill also benefitting the Dutch economy and energy supply network.

West Sussex has been against the construction of an energy from waste plant within the county (picture: Shutterstock)

“My own Authority – West Sussex County Council – exports around 90,000 tonnes of RDF a year roughly equally between The Netherlands and Germany. The economics of RDF export over landfill are marginal and we don’t have sufficient UK capacity to switch into domestic energy from waste facilities.”

Last resort

West Sussex county council has been against burning its own municipal waste within the county in an energy from waste plant, partly because of public opposition.  In the past the authority declared energy from waste as a “last resort” favouring other treatment options.

The decisions on the county’s policy for the last 15 years have largely followed from statements in 2004. Then Cllr Steve Waight, cabinet member for strategic planning and environment summed up the county’s view.  He declared: “I expect incineration to be the last resort. I do not believe that we will see incineration in West Sussex before 2015, and I am asking officers to take this as the guiding objective in devising the strategy for the contract.”

MBT plant

The county council had had the idea of building an energy from waste plant as early as 2003, identifying sites at Warnham Brickworks, Portfield and the former Shoreham Cement Works. But, in the face of public opposition, councillors backed off and instead eventually went on to award a contract to Biffa to operate an MBT plant for residual waste. West Sussex county councillors’ aspirations for the construction of a combined heat and power plant to use fuel from the waste generated by the MBT plant, which would also have heated a new housing estate, came to nothing.

Despite West Sussex’ desire not to have incinerators/energy from waste plants, two are now being suggested independently of the county council and could figure in future contracts.

Options emerging

Commenting on the West Sussex situation, Mr Read told that the county would like its waste to be incinerated in the UK but that there is “insufficient infrastructure”. However, while he did not mention the idea of an energy from waste plant directly in West Sussex in the future, future local options could emerge as there are at least two proposals for EfW plants in the county, one from Grundon/Viridor at Ford, West Sussex (gasification) and the other from Britaniacrest for a plant at Horsham.

“West Sussex would prefer for our waste to be dealt with in the UK.”

Steve Read, West Sussex county council

Mr Read commented: “West Sussex would prefer for our waste to be dealt with in the UK but there is insufficient infrastructure capacity to do it – we tendered a five year contract for RDF offtake under OJEU rules and the winning bid was for export. We welcome the development of RDF UK facilities and would hope they tender when the contract is next renewed.

“The EfW facilities which take our waste in Germany and Holland are CHP plants which generate heat as well as electricity and are consequently far more efficient than most of the UK EfW infrastructure. This more than compensates for the transport costs involved when comparing total system impacts.”

Centrica to use hot water tanks for frequency response in VPP

Image: Centrica

Image: Centrica

Centrica is to absorb thousands of residential hot water tanks into its virtual power plant (VPP) to provide flexibility to the grid.

The energy giant has secured approval from National Grid to use the tanks for firm frequency response (FFR) as part of a 2.5GW VPP it is establishing in the UK.

The tanks will be provided through a partnership with Mixergy, a spin-off company from the University of Oxford which has previously received investment from Centrica Innovations.

The first batch of 100 tanks have already been installed and will be capable of storing energy at times of high renewables, responding at times of stress whilst maintaining efficiency, cost and comfort.

The tanks are set to help balance the grid through storing excess load on the grid and time-shifting demand.

Charles Cameron, chairman of Centrica Innovations, said: "The first batch of 100 hot water tanks, which are now in homes in the UK will, at times of stress, be capable of capturing energy at low market prices on sunny or windy days when there is an abundance of renewables on the network, all whilst maintaining efficiency, cost and comfort for our customers.

It is the first instance of a pool of residential devices being aggregated into a VPP comprising of larger individual industrial assets and used to deliver services to automatically balance the system, Centrica said.

The tanks are also set to reduce heat losses, water and energy usage by up to 40% a year, through a combination of sensory and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The hot water levels in the tank are monitored and the household usage habits learned in order to personalise water volumes and heat only what is needed.

Pete Armstrong of Mixergy said the firm is “very excited to be at the heart of Centrica’s mission” to add additional flexibility to the energy system.

“Together with Centrica, we are paving the way for smart tariffs which will reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by storing excess renewable energy on the grid,” Armstrong added.

The use of the tanks for FFR has similarities to a trial conducted by Tesco and the University of Lincoln, whereby fridges provided the grid with frequency response services.

Centrica Business Solutions is working with a variety of global residential appliance manufacturers to explore opportunities for providing flexibility services using its demand response technology platform, Flexpond.

In June, Centrica announced its partnership with the Tokyo Electric Power Company for the use of Flexpond in providing demand response services for Japan’s grid.

Sea-level rise to affect one billion people by 2050, landmark IPCC report reveals

25 September 2019, source edie newsroom

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today (25 September) published its highly anticipated landmark report detailing how climate change will affect the world's oceans and cryosphere, and the impacts this will have on human health, the economy and wildlife.

The report represents the work of 104 scientists and references nearly 7,000 publications

The report represents the work of 104 scientists and references nearly 7,000 publications

Launched at the UN’s Climate Summit in New York, the document charts how ocean warming and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers will cause sea levels to rise through to 2050.

The key conclusion is that no parts of the world will be spared from the adverse impacts of rapid sea-level rise, which is likely to impact one billion people by 2050. Impacts range from regular flooding of homes, workplaces and schools, to the complete submersion of the world’s most at-risk island and coastal communities, displacing hundreds of millions of people. According to the IPCC, this sea-level rise will be irreversible.

Other projected impacts of climate change on the oceans and cryosphere detailed in the report include more frequent and more wide-reaching marine heatwaves, known for killing ocean wildlife and corals; the extinction of “ice-dependent” species such as polar bears; the acidification of the world’s oceans and a rise in “superstorms” – both over land and at sea.

The report additionally sets out how damage to oceans and the cryosphere will lower humanity’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts. It notes that, since 1970, the oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat generated by man-made activity and about a quarter of man-made CO2 emissions.

Coral reefs, the report states, are another key natural solution to climate change being eroded by its impacts. More than 500 million people are reliant on coral reefs for coastal protection and their livelihoods, but 99% of reefs will decline with a 2C increase in warming.

As was the case with its landmark report on global warming last autumn, the IPCC is using its new report to call on nations to align their climate policies with the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious 1.5C trajectory.

The difference between 1.5C and 2C, the body’s research has shown, will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. At present, despite leadership examples from nations, states and businesses, the world is on track for a temperature increase of 3C by 2100.

Green economy reaction

WWF’s director of Arctic programmes Dr Peter Windsor said: “Unprecedented melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers is now the biggest contributor to global sea-level rise that will impact hundreds of millions of people.

“We can still save parts of our cryosphere, but we must act now. Existing commitments by governments to fight climate change are inadequate. The four million people living in the Arctic are dealing with disappearing food sources and struggling to keep their homes from slipping into the ocean. Polar regions, their people and species, depend on us to take action now.”

WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks said: “This extremely worrying report underlines the need for the Scottish Government to build on its welcome focus on climate change at the heart of the Programme for Government by rapidly accelerating policy action and funding to cut carbon and restore nature.

“At a time when all eyes are starting to turn to Scotland ahead of the UN Climate talks in Glasgow, it’s vital that Scottish Ministers step up action to address the climate emergency in the next Budget and Climate Plan.”

Christian Aid’s Global Climate Lead Dr Kat Kramer said: “This report must act as a clarion call to end our continuing pursuit of fossil fuels which are causing huge harm to the world’s oceans.

“Not only are fossil fuels a source of ubiquitous plastic waste, they are the main source of the CO2 that is killing coral reefs through global heating and ocean acidification.”

Former Environment Minister Richard Benyon MP said: “This report shows very clearly that the fundamental and non-negotiable requirement for a healthy ocean is sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can and should protect fish and their habitat from over-fishing and other forms of exploitation, but the IPCC analysis shows that if we do nothing about carbon emissions such measures will amount to little more than sticking-plaster.

“With the UK hosting next year’s UN climate summit, everyone in Government at any level must focus their attention like a laser beam on the single goal of cutting emissions; only that can ensure long-term health for the amazing ocean life about which we all care so deeply.”

Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) director Richard Black said: “Shrinking ice-sheets, a suffocating ocean, glaciers that act as reservoirs for billions of people melting away; there is precious little of cheer in this latest IPCC report.

“In particular, declining levels of oxygen in the ocean, combined with warming and acidification, present marine life with a triple whammy of threats whose collective impact is incalculable, while the release of greenhouse gases from a melting Arctic risks taking us beyond the point where climate change could be easily constrained.

“Nevertheless, it’s worth recalling that the IPCC’s report last year concluded that governments can shrink emissions quickly enough to keep global warming to 1.5ºC if they choose. And as all governments commissioned and have now accepted this new report, none can claim to be unaware of both the dangers of untrammeled climate change nor the feasibility of preventing it.”

Zero Waste Scotland - Corporate Plan 2019-23

Using products and resources responsibly - our corporate plan (2019-23)

Global emissions are destroying our planet - if we carry on as we are, it’s set to get worse.

Four-fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint come from products and materials.  The production, consumption and waste of these products and materials are heating the earth at an alarming rate.  This includes the energy required to grow, make, process and transport them, whether they are made here in Scotland or elsewhere. Climate change doesn’t respect borders. It affects everyone.

Roughly three planets would be required if everyone lived the way people live in Scotland. And we only have one.


Our corporate plan

Scotland can show the world another way.

For Zero Waste Scotland that means we will lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly.  Making Scotland a pioneer of the Circular Economy, just as we were a pioneer of the industrial revolution.

Our organisation is already at the heart of a political and public shift in attitudes towards the environmental consequences of our lifestyles. Making us a lighthouse for the circular economy. 

Our strategic outcomes

Zero Waste Scotland will focus on where, as a society, we can have the greatest impact on climate change.  This includes:

  • Responsible Consumption – where people and businesses demand products and services in ways which respect the limits of our natural resources.
  • Responsible Production – where a circular economy is embraced by businesses and organisations which supply products and services to get the maximum life and value from the natural resources used to make them;
  • Maximising Value from Waste and Energy – where the environmental and economic value of wasted resources and energy is harnessed efficiently.

Our dedicated people, great relationships with partners - both locally and internationally - and trust from businesses and organisations, mean we are well placed to achieve the challenges ahead.

To meet the scale of the challenge, Zero Waste Scotland is evolving to meet our ambitions. Investing in our staff and building valuable partnerships will define our future success.

Through our values of being Pioneering, Collaborative, Focused and Authentic, we will show the world how to live a truly low carbon life.

This is our vision. This is our future. This is our plan…

Getting in touch

Want to work together or tell us what you think of our corporate plan? Get in touch via our contact form.

For media enquiries please contact our PR team.

The Landfill Ban in Scotland - update from the Scottish Government

Letter from Roseanna Cunningham Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform


Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Roseanna Cunningham MSP
T: 0300 244 4000

19 September 2019


Dear colleague
As you will know, the Scottish Government published a Waste Markets Study in April 2019 which examined Scotland’s readiness to deliver the forthcoming ban on biodegradable municipal waste to landfill from January 2021. Whilst this demonstrated significant progress towards the ban, it confirmed that both public and private sectors will not be fully compliant by 2021 without reliance on export options, including landfill in England.

Recent advice from the Committee on Climate Change reinforced the importance of reducing our reliance on landfill and the Scottish Government remains fully committed to ending the practice of sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill in order to contribute to climate change targets and ensure Scotland’s waste is managed in a sustainable way.

I have carefully considered key issues and available evidence, the challenges faced by public and private sectors and the range of options available. In doing so, I have been provided with advice from a working group made up of public and private sector waste sector professionals, and we have also taken account of the views of wider stakeholders.

I acknowledge the significant progress made to date and, particularly, that a majority of local authorities and many commercial operators have long-term or interim solutions in place. However, I am extremely disappointed to note that others have not made sufficient progress, despite the ban being set in legislation in 2012. I also understand that there is significant potential domestic capacity in the pipeline to help deliver the ban, but not by January 2021.

My key consideration is to do what is right for Scotland’s – and the global – environment. The recent advice from the Committee on Climate Change reinforced the importance of reducing our reliance on landfill and I am clear that the destination must remain the same – we need to end the practice of sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill.

Our approach to achieving this must reflect the spirit of the ban. I am concerned in particular about the additional environmental impact associated with sending significant volumes of Scotland’s residual waste, potentially over significant distances, to landfill in England. I am also mindful of the additional financial implications for local authorities of having to rely on export options.

Taking account of these factors, I am prepared to accept – very reluctantly - that an alternative, transitional approach is necessary; and that some commercial operators and a minority of local authorities need longer to achieve full compliance with the ban.

Therefore, I have agreed that full enforcement should be delayed until 2025 for both public and private sectors managing wastes covered by the ban. This timescale is in line with the broader advice provided by the Committee on Climate Change on action needed to meet net zero emissions targets. I expect local authorities and the commercial sector to make further progress at pace before the legislation needed to extend the deadline is made.

This decision has not been taken lightly and I am extremely disappointed that more progress has not been made to date. As such, I should stress that I want to see evidence of continuing progress towards achieving full compliance over the period between now and 2025. It would be totally unacceptable to see action deferred to create another pressure point as we approach 2025.

In order to support progress, I have concluded there should be a positive, centrally co-ordinated intervention to help the remaining local authorities procure solutions for the remaining tonnage of waste that provide the necessary contract length to support investment. Any such approach should be Local Government led (i.e. driven by local authorities without existing solutions who would retain formal responsibility for securing alternative treatment solutions for the waste arising in their areas) and supported by the Scottish Government, where appropriate. My officials will be working during the coming months to ensure that this moves forward as swiftly as possible.

I am also looking to the commercial sector in particular to respond to remaining challenges and for sector representative bodies to provide necessary leadership, to continue to actively contribute to national and local delivery planning and to help facilitate any practical support needed to secure full compliance.
In relation to future delivery plans, I wish to reinforce the importance of reducing waste and increasing recycling. These provide the best solutions in line with the waste hierarchy and will reduce reliance on solutions further down the hierarchy, such as energy from waste.

It is important that there should be a financial incentive to complying with the ban as soon as possible. In that regard, Scottish Landfill Tax will be used to provide a further incentive to ensure that transitional work proceeds at the necessary pace. The precise profiling of changes will need careful consideration so as not to provide an incentive for landfilling in England.

We will continue to work closely with key partners and will bring forward detailed proposals for this transitional approach in due course. Finally, I want to reiterate the importance of further progress at pace and my expectation that all partners will play their full part in order to help end Scotland’s contribution to the global climate emergency. To this end, I intend to establish a Programme Board comprising senior leaders and waste management professionals across public and commercial sectors, who will be tasked with overseeing progress from this point and driving forward the necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the ban by 2025. The board will report to me at regular intervals.

If you have questions about the detail of this letter, please contact Janet McVea, Head of Zero Waste Unit in the first instance at

Yours faithfully
Roseanna Cunningham

Scottish Ministers, special advisers and the Permanent Secretary are covered by the terms of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016. See
St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Dutch government lays RDF tax proposals

Proposals to tax the import of waste into the Netherlands have been laid before the country’s parliament this week.

The tax is part of a package of measures to address climate change and is expected to increase the cost of residual waste treatment for local authorities and businesses from the UK who use incineration plants in the Netherlands to dispose of waste.

King Willem Alexander (right) opened the Dutch Parliament in the Hague yesterday (17 September). He is pictured arriving at the Parliament with his wife Queen Máxima. (Picture: fotografiekb /

Legislation to introduce a tax on foreign waste was among a host of measures put before the parliament during the Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) opening of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives yesterday (17 September).

During Prinsjesdag, the country’s monarch, Willem Alexander, sets out the government’s key policy proposals for the coming parliament, and a budget is presented to elected representatives.

Documents published on the government’s tax proposals yesterday indicate that around 1.9 million tonnes of ‘foreign’ waste is incinerated in Holland’s energy from waste facilities, roughly 25% of the country’s overall capacity, including a large proportion from the UK.


A tax on the incineration of domestically produced waste has existed in the Netherlands since 2015, and the new tax on waste sourced from outside of the country, which will be implemented from January 2020, will see this applied across all waste handled in the country. This stands at around €32 per tonne.

In its explanatory document setting out the measures, the Dutch government stated: “Taxing waste materials that have been transferred to the Netherlands for incineration creates an incentive to better sort these waste materials or to process them more efficiently.

“Waste that is incinerated or dumped in the Netherlands will be taxed in the same way, regardless of whether these waste [sic] originated in the Netherlands or were shipped to the Netherlands. The government expects that this measure will reduce the amount of waste shipped that is incinerated in the Netherlands.

“The government expects that this measure will reduce the amount of waste shipped that is incinerated in the Netherlands.”

Dutch Government

“This is expected to lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, even if a correction is made for an increase in alternative ways of generating electricity and heat to compensate for decreased production of electricity and heat in waste incineration plants.”

Export market

The Netherlands is the largest market for the material from the UK taking in more than one million tonnes a year and exporters have claimed that the proposal has the potential to wipe out the trade to Holland.

Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the legislation and some proposals could be amended or even dropped.

The tax has already prompted lobbying from both the UK and organisations in the Netherlands, who argue that the measure could see more waste landfilled if it is not economically viable to export for incineration, which could, in turn, lead to higher CO2 emissions.