By David Leask Chief Reporter, The Herald

New laws on landfill will start in 2021

New laws on landfill will start in 2021

SCOTLAND is sending more rubbish to landfill as its recycling drive stalls, new figures have revealed.

Councils and commercial operators dumped 3.83 million tonnes of waste in the ground in 2017, more than 700 kilos each for every man woman and child in the country.

The figure rose because increasing recycling and incineration cannot keep up with a relentless rise in the amount of garbage generated north of the border, including industrial and construction rubble and soil.

Official figures published on Tuesday by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Sepa showed recorded waste from all sources at 11.82 million tonnes, up 5.5 per cent from a year before.

The share of rubbish recycled – after successive years of increasing – edged back slightly to 58.9 per cent in 2017. This was a rare setback in succesive years of improvement.

READ MORE: We are getting good at recycling but we need to create less trash

Green campaigners have long warned that the country needs to generate less waste rather than just try to recycle the rubbish it does create.

Iain Gulland of Zero Waste Scotland, writing in today’s Herald, said: “We are getting smarter about ways to deal with waste but the real challenge is reducing it in the first place.”

Terry A’Hearn, Sepa’s Chief Executive, said: “The scale of the environmental challenge is enormous and we know that in Scotland we currently use the resources of three planets, but only have one.

“The most successful countries in the 21st century will be resource efficient, circular economies, where what once was waste is valued as a resource.

“As such, the latest figures give communities and businesses a fresh focus for the opportunity ahead.”

The big picture remains that Scotland is still landfilling half as much as it did in 2005. The rise in waste in 2017 was largely down to soil and rubble rather than trash collected from homes. There was slightly less municipal waste thrown in to landfill in 2017 than in 2016.

Both environmentalists and the waste industry itself have warned that some Scottish Government targets will prove unachievable.

The Government, for example, has said it will ban biodegradable waste from going to landfill in 2021. However, in 2017 there was still 1.09 million tonnes of it going in to the ground. That was just half as much as in 2005.

A spokesman for the waste industry lobby, the Environmental Services Association, stressed less than half of rubbish from homes was being recycled. The Government wants to achieve 50 per cent household waste recycling by 2020.

The ESA spokesman said: “Scotland’s household recycling rate continues to stall at around 45%, casting further doubt on our ability to meet the much higher recycling targets of the EU Circular Economy package.

“Closing the predicted 1 million tonne waste capacity gap upon implementation of Scotland’s landfill ban in 2021 is also based on the premise of much higher recycling rates. The Scottish Government is currently looking to recast the way in which Scotland’s waste and resources are managed with a series of ambitions plans across a number of policy areas.

A Scottish ban on dumping such waste could mean huge exports to English landfills – with tens of millions in landfill tax collected south rather than north of the border, according to research for the investigative journalism site The Ferret. Landfill tax rises to £94 per tonne next year.

There was some progress in 2017 on dealing with organic waste. The amount recycled by composting or anaerobic digestion continues to increase with almost 158,000 tonnes more being recycled than in 2011.

The amount of waste diverted from landfill through incineration – for power generation- increased by nearly 15 per cent. That amounted to 760,000 tonnes. Incineration, however, has proved controversial.