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Highland: Area Waste Plan

As part of the National Waste Strategy: Scotland, each Waste Strategy Area has gone through a process which has resulted in the formulation of an Area Waste Plan.

This Area Waste Plan is the way in which the Waste Strategy Area plan to deal with its waste in order to meet the targets set out in the EC Landfill Directive and to develop more sustainable methods of waste management.

Following is a short summary of the process that was undergone in Highland:

1999: The Baseline

The population of the Highlands is 211,157. In 1999, a total of 500,000 tonnes of waste was produced by this area, of which household waste amounted to 120,000 tonnes.

At the moment, 2.2% of the Highlands' waste is recycled. There are no reprocessing plants in the Highlands, so anything that is to be recycled has to be transported to other areas of the country.

To find out where the nearest recycling point to you is, go to www.recycle-more.co.uk or www.wastepoint.co.uk.

The remaining 97.8% of waste is sent to landfills. This includes £1,000,000 worth of steel and aluminium every year!

Under the Landfill Directive, this system of waste management will have to change, as it is not a sustainable practice - that is to say it is not good for the economy, the environment or the people in the long run. We will need to stop landfilling biodegradable waste, because it is a resource, and when it is landfilled it produces methane, which is harmful to the environment in large quantities.

Composting biodegradable waste turns it into useful (and free) soil conditioner. Composting is simple and can be done at home. To find out how, click here.

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2000: The Options

The Highlands Waste Strategy Area Group (WSAG) have produced a paper, which looks at the waste management issues in the area and some possible solutions. It is available from www.sepa.org.uk/nws/areas.

The AWG has come up with 5 possible options for waste management in the future. The main emphasis of each of these is:

  • Option 1: Incineration - an Energy from Waste plant would be set up, from which electricity could be produced by burning waste. 48% of the Highlands' waste will still be sent to landfills.
  • Option 2: Centralised Composting and Recycling - the AWG would aim to recycle 32% of the area's waste, with the remaining 68% going to landfill.
  • Option 3: Pyrolysis or Gasification - these new technologies are similar also produce energy from waste, but are cleaner and safer for the environment. 42% of the area's waste will go to landfills.
  • Option 4: Anaerobic Digester - this is similar to composting and produces soil conditioner from organic waste. The fundamental difference is that composting requires oxygen, where as anaerobic digestion doesn't.
  • Option 5: Local Composting and Recycling - this option relies on composting and recycling facilities being set up in each region of the Highlands.

All the options above include local recycling and composting, as well as the technologies mentioned. The targets set out in the Landfill Directive cannot be met without your help, so get out there and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Click here for some tips on how to do this at home.

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2002: The Draft Plan

In March 2002, following consultation on the above options, the Highlands produced a draft Area Waste Plan.

The plan aims to recycle or compost 42% of the area's waste and use as much of the rest as possible to produce energy. Landfill sites will still be used, but the plan aims to reduce the amount of waste going into them to 28%.

This option will cost the region £257 million over the next 20 years. Several jobs will be created.

If you want to know more, you can contact the Highland Waste Strategy Area Co-ordinator, Lorna Walker at:

SEPA Dingwall Office,
Graesser House,
Fodderty Way,
Dingwall Business Park,

Tel: 01349 862021
Fax: 01349 863987

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March 2003: The Area Waste Plan

The Highland Area Waste Plan was published this month. Here are some of its objectives:

  • there will be separate collections of waste materials that can be composted or recycled from all households;
  • composting plants will be built;
  • a Materials Reclamation Facility is to be built in the Inner Moray Firth around 2007 (where the recyclates collected from households will be sorted and sent on for recycling);
  • an Energy from Waste plant will be built in the Inner Moray Firth, where some of your waste will be converted to energy;
  • a new landfill site will also be built in the Inner Moray Firth.

If you would like to read the Area Waste Plan, please click here to download it from SEPA's website.

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If you have any queries, please email us, or call 01786 471 333

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