Friends of the Earth Scotland has welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government’s incineration review will include a moratorium on all current and new applications for the length of the review, confirmed in parliament today. Clarity is now needed on the timescales and remit of the review.  

The amount of waste incinerated in Scotland has tripled in eight years. Scotland now incinerates over a million tonnes of waste a year and there are plans to increase capacity by an extra million tonnes in the pipeline. This temporary moratorium is an important milestone in ending incineration of waste in Scotland. 

Lorna Slater, Circular Economy Minister, announced that Dr Colin Church would be chairing the review. Given his experience in industry, he will need to make a special effort to make sure community groups are heard.

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

“Like the moratorium on fracking, this is the first step towards a permanent ban on incineration in Scotland. Environmentally damaging and wasteful practices, such as incineration, belong in the past. They have no place in Scotland’s future if we are to meet our recycling and Net Zero targets.

“Incinerator operators across Scotland have failed to deliver on promises to make their plants energy efficient. Their false promises cannot be allowed to sway the direction of the review. It’s time for the voices of the communities, who are most impacted by the pollution created by incinerators, to be heard.

“Scotland can turn around the current rush to incineration and create a circular economy, where materials are used as efficiently as possible and climate emissions from waste are eliminated. This system change requires strong leadership. The Chair of this review now has an opportunity to provide Scotland with an exit strategy from incineration.”

Incinerators release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, contributing directly to climate change. The Scottish Government’s climate change advisory body, the Climate Change Committee estimates that incinerators now emit more carbon than coal in the UK. 

There are six Scottish incineration plants which burn municipal waste, none of which meet SEPA standards for energy recovery or generate both electricity and heat.


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

CCC comments on incineration:  https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/waste-sector-not-a-priority-for-cop-26-webinar-hears/ 

FoES Circular Economy briefing note: https://foe.scot/campaign/plastic-pollution/what-is-a-circular-economy/ 

FoES press release on fracking: https://foe.scot/the-end-of-the-road-for-fracking-in-scotland/ 

SEPA waste data for Scotland:

https://www.sepa.org.uk/environment/waste/waste-data/waste-data-reporting/waste-data-for-scotland/ 

Zero Waste Scotland report on the climate change impacts of burning municipal waste in Scotland:

https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/The%20climate%20change%20impact%20of%20burning%20municipal%20waste%20in%20Scotland%20Technical%20Report%20July%202021.pdf 

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. 

www.foe.scot