Friends of the Earth Scotland say the announcement that the Scottish Government’s incineration review does not include a moratorium while it is conducted, which will lead to a rush of applications before any new rules come in.

Incinerators contribute to climate change by emitting greenhouse gases from the waste they burn. They also make it more difficult to ensure potentially recyclable material is not wasted instead. 

The total amount of waste incinerated in Scotland in 2019 was 1.23Mt, double that in 2011. At least another ten new incinerators are proposed around Scotland. We are set to miss our 70% recycling target for 2025, as recycling rates have slowed and even reversed in recent years. In 2019, Scotland’s household recycling rate was 44.9%.

Kim Pratt, Circular Economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“It is encouraging that an independent chair will oversee the review and its remit. The choice of the chair will be crucial in ensuring the review is fair and effective. It is essential that the views and concerns of community groups and environmental experts at the centre of the incineration debate are heard.  

“The problem with the proposed review is that the Scottish Government has missed an opportunity to pause the exponential increase in incineration capacity as the review takes place. This omission is a green light for waste firms to rush in their planning applications to avoid any new restrictions that come out of the review. It is a burners’ charter.

“The alarming rise in incineration of waste in Scotland in recent years is making our Net Zero climate commitments more challenging to achieve. We cannot afford for this to continue because incinerators will lock us into decades of burning waste which should be recycled instead.

“There are lower carbon alternatives to incineration, which ensure valuable resources are returned to our economy. The review must provide Scotland with a low carbon exit strategy from incineration and deliver a circular economy.”

The Government points to technical solutions to reduce incineration emissions. However, industry have failed to deliver – today, no Scottish incinerators utilise both heat and electricity despite planning applications which suggested otherwise. 

Information on trends in Scotland’s waste management, including recycling and incineration can be found on the SEPA website: https://www.sepa.org.uk/environment/waste/waste-data/waste-data-reporting/waste-data-for-scotland/ 

FoE briefing on incineration:  https://foe.scot/resource/incineration-briefing/

Ten new incinerators will threaten recycling targets https://theferret.scot/waste-incinerators-recycling-targets

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.