According to the latest results of a unique approach to measuring the environmental impact of waste, developed by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), Scotland has reduced the carbon impact from waste by 17%.
Scotland’s Carbon Metric measures the carbon impact of Scotland’s waste, not just the amount that is recycled.
In 2013, the carbon impact of waste in Scotland was 10.8m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (10.8 Mt CO2e), down from 13.1 Mt CO2e in 2011, when measurements started.
The figures show that by recycling more, Scotland has reduced the carbon impact of waste by almost 2.3 Mt or 17% since 2011.
“The latest results reveal that recycling in Scottish homes and businesses is delivering real benefits, with a big carbon saving achieved between 2011 and 2013. These are results to be proud of, and should spur us on to continue to redouble our recycling efforts”
It takes into account the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste, from the energy and raw materials that went into producing items, through to the impact of transporting materials in order for them to be recycled. It also shows the carbon impacts of managing the country’s waste in different ways, allowing the comparison of the benefits of waste management methods such as recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion and reuse.
The Carbon Metric will also be important in measuring progress towards the Scottish Government’s new target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025, ZWS said.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead, commented: “The Carbon Metric is a unique and useful tool which shows the climate changing impacts of waste, and clearly demonstrates the benefits of reducing waste and increasing recycling – both key priorities of the Scottish Government.
“The latest results reveal that recycling in Scottish homes and businesses is delivering real benefits, with a big carbon saving achieved between 2011 and 2013. These are results to be proud of, and should spur us on to continue to redouble our recycling efforts.”
The figures were revealed by Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland at the “Circular Economy Now” event.
He said: “We’re recycling more than ever before thanks to the efforts of people at home and in their businesses all over Scotland.
“What these new figures show is that by recycling more we really are making a difference to the environment, not just here in Scotland, but globally too, by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
“It shows that we are right to target recycling of things like metals and food waste as these have a very high carbon impact. The Carbon Metric, by moving for the first time towards a carbon-based measure for waste, has the potential to change the way we think about waste and how we manage it.”