Scottish public give green light to composting and recycling

Two Scottish consultation papers on future waste strategies have given a green light to composting and recycling, according to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The first, from the Highland Waste Strategy Group on the future for the area’s waste, showed that residents of the Highlands “overwhelmingly” support composting and recycling as the best ways to dispose of their rubbish.

Over 700 responses were received, and SEPA coordinator Lorna Walker said: “These results are very positive, and show that there’s a lot of support in the Highlands for practical initiatives to deal with our half a million tonnes of rubbish. We found that 80% of people wanted small facilities located around the Highlands. What is also encouraging is that 90% gave us their views on how to reduce waste in the first place. Our next steps will be to consider these findings and come to a decision on the best option for the Highlands within the next few months. We will consult on this as well, before putting our plan to the Scottish Executive for approval.”

Option one called for a central incinerator and landfill facilities, with garden waste composting and existing recycling facilities to be maintained.

Option two outlined a large central biodegradable waste composting plant and satellite plants, kerbside biodegradable waste collection and recycling with non-compostable waste going to landfill.

Option three suggested a gasification plant, with a new landfill site for pyrolysis waste, garden waste to be taken to civic amenity sites for composting, increased recycling banks in some areas and ferrous material recovery for recycling.

Option four was for a large centralised anaerobic digestion plant for biodegradable waste and local composting. Kerbside biodegradable waste collection and a separate recyclables scheme in the central area, plus a new landfill, were also outlined.

Option five called for local composting facilities, household separation of waste into biodegradable, dry recyclable and residual waste. This option would maintain existing recycling sites, with recycled material used locally where possible.

The responses showed the clear leader was option five, with 83% of respondents placing it first or second. Option three was next favourite, with 30% of respondents placing it first or second. The remaining three options attracted comparatively little support.

The Western Isles Area Waste Group also reported an “excellent response” to its waste management consultation, which received 259 responses on the options set out for waste disposal over the next 20 years.

The consultation paper again outlines five options: minimisation and landfill; minimisation and a new energy from waste plant; minimisation and a centralised in-vessel composting plant; minimisation and centralised in-vessel anaerobic digestion; minimisation and export of waste.

The option costings all take into account the high transport costs in the area and range from £7 million to £10 million for the most expensive option, the new energy from waste plant, to just £2 million to £3 million for minimisation and export. The Area Waste Group has suggested that serious consideration be given to sea transportation as an alternative to road use.

An initial assessment of feedback shows a high level of support for the anaerobic digestion option, explained as “a natural process that breaks waste down into useful products including methane, which can be used to fuel the process, as well as a high quality soil improver and waste heat, both of which can be used locally”.

Recycling was also well supported, says SEPA. The final results of this exercise should be available at the end of February and will be publicised throughout the Western Isles.

“We’re really pleased with this level of interest,” said Guy Robertson of SEPA, who co-ordinates the group’s work. “It’s extremely important that local communities and businesses become actively involved in that plan, as its success will depend on their continued participation.”

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