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Scotland launches consultation on landfill bans and mandatory source segregation

A new consultation, which proposes landfill bans and compulsory source segregation of recyclables from commercial premises, has been launched by the Scottish Government.

The consultation is asking for stakeholder views on the proposed Zero Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011, which will provide legislative changes to enact three of the 22 proposed actions in the Zero Waste Plan published in June.

These changes include:

  • A requirement that all waste producers other than households provide source segregation of glass, metals, textiles, plastics and paper and card from residual waste. 
  • Proposals to ban the above sorted recyclable waste streams from landfill
  • A ban on the mixing of separately collected recyclables after collection
  • Restricting energy from waste (EfW) inputs to only residual waste streams and suitable single waste stream such as contaminated wood.

Mandatory source segregation of recyclables will be introduced through an extended Duty of Care code of practice, which will apply to all waste producers as well as waste carriers. However, the new duty of care will allow for commingling of recyclables.

The consultation document explains: “In order to comply with this Duty, it will be necessary to have separate containers for the listed recyclable wastes. With the exception of food waste, which must be collected in a dedicated container, it is satisfactory under this duty for the listed recyclable wastes to be collected in the same container as each other.”

Although currently exempt from the revised duty of care, the consultation document also explains that local authorities have a duty, where “technically, environmentally or economically practicable” to provide containers for source segregated collection of recyclables.

The Scottish Government’s plan to introduce landfill bans includes proposals to restrict all recyclable streams, such as paper and card, glass, plastic, metals and textiles reaching landfill sites. However, these materials will still be allowed if they arrive as part of unsorted waste streams.

The consultation states: “It is important for consultees to understand that banning these materials from landfill does not mean that they must be removed from mixed/unsorted waste prior to disposal in landfill sites. Unsorted wastes arriving at landfill sites are still likely to

contain the listed materials. The bans apply only to materials which have alreadybeen sorted for recycling – either as part of the new Duty of Care or by householders using the service provided by their waste collection authority.”

A second landfill ban on “measurable property” proposes to introduce restrictions on the level of biodegradable material sent for landfilling in unsorted waste streams. Such a ban would operate by setting a measurable “floor” of a Total Organic Carbon content of under 3% for any given unsorted waste.

In practice, this will mean that unsorted waste will require pre-treatment in an anaerobic digestion, or mechanical biological treatment facility to reduce biological content to below 3% of the total.

The document states: “Under this framework, unsorted waste treatment operators will remove recyclable materials to produce a ‘residual’ waste stream for incineration and a stabilised fraction for landfill.

If these efforts have not been made and the waste has not been stabilised to below the threshold, processors will not be able to describe the landfill fraction as “pre-treated prior to landfill” on the Waste Transfer Note.

The consultation ends on 28 February 2011.

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