Carbon impact of Scotland’s waste decreasing

The carbon impact of Scotland’s household waste is decreasing, according to the country’s latest waste figures.

The Scottish carbon metric shows a 15% decrease in Scotland’s household waste carbon impact from 2011 to 2018, following a decreasing trajectory since 2011.

The longer trend is largely a result of increased recycling rates, particularly for high impact waste materials, as well as reduction in waste generated and reduced landfilling of biodegradable waste.

The carbon impact of household waste generated and managed in 2018 was 5.76 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – which is 1.06 TCO2e per person.

This was a decrease of 104,228 TCO2e from 2017 and a decrease of 1,007,754 TCO2e from 2011.

The metric, a measure of national performance, takes a holistic view, from resource extraction and manufacturing emissions, through to resource management emissions.

Scotland’s waste

Scotland’s overall household waste recycling rate was 44.7%, a decrease of 0.9 percentage points from the 45.5% rate achieved in 2016.

The total volume of household waste generated in Scotland fell a further 2% in 2018, from 2.46 million tonnes in 2017 to 2.41 million tonnes in 2018, a decrease of 55,574 tonnes.

2018 also saw a further decrease of household waste sent to landfill, 7% or 75,491 tonnes down from 2017.

This is the seventh consecutive decrease in household waste landfilled since 2011 – and for the second consecutive year there was more Scottish waste recycled (1.07 million tonnes) than landfilled (1.03 million tonnes).

Plastic recycling rose by 8,163 tonnes (5%) to 56,586 tonnes in 2018, continuing the trend of increasing each year for the last seven years.

Glass remains the second most recycled material, with the rate up by 832 tonnes (0.8%) to 107,380 tonnes, in line with the longer term trend.

Paper and cardboard remains the largest volume of material recycled at 209,120 tonnes (19%).

However, there has been a general downward trend of paper and cardboard wastes recycled or reused since 2011. The reduction from 2017 was 16,374 tonnes (7%) – making a 31,226 tonnes (13%) reduction since 2011.

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