Update from Steve Gilfillan, our Scotland rep

As we move slowly through the first month of a new year, I do wonder quite what 2022 has in store for us. There are clearly still many uncertainties on the road ahead regarding Covid-19 and precisely how this will continue to impact upon our day-to-day lives; as things stand currently the omicron variant is certainly dominating how we both work and socialise. Let’s hope by the time spring comes around, we can all get back to doing some of the things we previously took very much for granted.

Some of the key policy developments within the resource management sector in Scotland are more certain and are now briefly considered.

Recycling Improvement Fund (RIF)
The five-year £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund, part of the Programme for Government, aims to accelerate progress towards Scotland’s ambitious waste and recycling targets and net zero commitment. To date, 16 projects with a total value of around £20m have been made. My own authority West Lothian Council was awarded just over £4M for the purchase of bins for all households to align with the Code of Practice and introduce a twin stream recycling service, improve communal collection points and the introduction of road end collection.

National Litter and Fly-tipping Strategy
The 15-week public consultation for a new national litter and fly-tipping strategy was launched on 13 December 2021 and is seeking views on behavioural change, enforcement and services and infrastructure. The strategy aims to build upon Scotland’s first national litter strategy which was originally launched in 2014.

Single Use Plastics (SUPS) Regulations
The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 comes into force on 01 June 2022. Following this date, it will be unlawful to make and supply commercially any of the following items:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks and other similar utensils)
  • Single-use plastic plates;
  • Single-use plastic beverage stirrers;
  • Single-use food containers made of expanded polystyrene;
  • Single-use cups made of expanded polystyrene.

The regulations also make it unlawful to supply commercially the items below. These items are subject to exemptions which allow them to be supplied in particular settings and circumstances:

  • Single-use plastic straws;
  • Single-use plastic balloon sticks

DRS Scotland (2023)
The go live date for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme which was delayed is now scheduled to start on 16 August 2023. There is clearly a significant amount of work needing to be put in place between now and then, but DRS infrastructure should start to be implemented at pace from summer 2022. Whether the ambitious 90% collection rates are achieved remains to be seen.

To conclude: Although not specifically within scope of ‘Blog from Scotland’, I couldn’t help but include something on the current Defra waste tracking project which passed a significant milestone in November 2021 following the implementation of the Environment Act 2021. This has enabled powers to introduce electronic (digital) waste tracking in England, Wales and Scotland and establish an electronic system for that purpose. I’m sure that many of us will have contributed to the detailed and lengthy waste tracking project through the waste tracking user panel. An article I read in the environment section of a daily national newspaper on Christmas Eve made me chuckle in highlighting only too glaringly the limitations of the current UK regulatory system when a renowned journalist succeeded in registering his long-deceased pet as a licensed waste carrier. Long live ‘Algernon the goldfish’!

Happy 2022, All.

“Lang may yer lum reek.”