We all produce it, households and businesses alike. While as a nation we might be starting to reduce the amount we produce and recycle more, waste is still a very real problem facing our environment.

Scotland's environment web
January 07, 2016

Making sustainable choices to help reduce our waste can be challenging at the best of times, but never more so than at this time of year. In their very nature, celebrations over the festive period can lead to us all generating more waste than usual. But the start of a new year also presents us with an excellent opportunity to look at how we can be more sustainable and reduce or make better use of our waste.

Scotland’s environment web is crammed full of everything about Scotland's environment - data, maps, videos and apps - all designed and presented in attractive ways to help you make the right decisions about living more responsibly. Our partner organisations provide respected and authoritative information across a range of topics, brought to life to help us understand the world in which we live and on which we depend for our health and well-being.

So in this edition of the Scotland’s Environment newsletter, we bring you all you need to know to help you have a more sustainable and a greener New Year. Read about the actions you can take to become more sustainable, watch our video of the month featuring Jon Molyneux from Zero Waste Scotland, find out who’s responsible for dealing with waste in Scotland, and take a look at how businesses can reduce their waste.

Don’t forget to visit the Scotland’s environment website where you can get informed about waste in Scotland or dig deeper in to the data behind the Scottish waste statistics with the household waste and waste from all sources data analysis tools to explore graphs, charts and trends with up-to-date waste data published by SEPA.

Make a greener New Year's resolution

Now that all remains of the excitement and jollity of the festive season is a couple of orange creams rattling around the sweetie tin, some stray pine needles and the odd unclaimed cracker gift, our thoughts inevitably turn to the coming year and what we want to achieve. It could be eating healthier or getting fit. Maybe you are setting yourself a personal challenge, or like an increasing number of people, maybe you want to try to live a more sustainable and less wasteful life.

It seems like a big challenge. Especially after the festive season, which by its very nature seems to go against the idea of reducing waste and energy use. With research regularly coming up with new and alarming statistics around the amount of waste at this time of year, it’s no wonder you can feel daunted by the prospect.

But don’t let this put you off. There are a surprising number of small and easy things that you can do that will lead to a greener lifestyle. Scotland’s environment web has dedicated this issue to helping you embrace the New Year armed with lots of ideas of how you can be more sustainable and reduce or make better use of your waste.

Make a difference

Each Scottish household generates more than a tonne of waste every year, but much of this could be reduced, reused or recycled to help create a cleaner and greener Scotland. We can also make a huge difference (and save up to £470 a year) by taking steps to reduce food waste.

The environmental cost of an item isn't just a reflection of what's needed to make it. It also reflects the energy used in the item's production and the impact it will have when we use it and throw it away. This cost is felt both in Scotland and around the world.

As waste breaks down in landfill it releases gases that play a part in climate change – and some waste, like certain kinds of plastic, never disappears.

By making smart decisions about what we buy and how we get the most out of our purchases, we can work together to reduce the amount of waste Scotland produces. Items that break or fall apart can often be fixed to prolong their life. We can also reuse items for the same or a different purpose, giving many of the things that would otherwise be thrown away a second life.

When it is finally time to throw something away, recycling makes sure that the materials used to make it are used again.

Reasons to reduce, reuse and recycle

  • Energy and resources are wasted whenever an item goes to landfill.
  • Raw materials are a limited resource – we might not always be able to replace what we throw away.
  • Less landfill means less pollution – and a cleaner, greener Scotland.
  • Waste costs! Scotland’s avoidable food waste alone runs to more than £1 billion a year.

So how does where you live compare with the rest of Scotland in terms of household waste management.

Easy actions you can take

Reduce your food waste

In Scotland, we throw away over 600,000 tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, most of which could have been eaten if only it was managed better.

You can save up to £39 per month by throwing away less food, and help the environment by saving energy, water and reducing harmful gases.

Check out LoveFood HateWaste's recipe ideas for what to do with leftovers, or download the LoveFood HateWaste mobile app for apple and android devices for more top tips throughout the year on reducing food waste.

Top tips for recycling

Recycle for Scotland have lots of advice and information on recycling including the recycling locator that helps you find out what you can recycle at home and at nearby recycling centres.

Become a Zero Waste Champion

Across Scotland there are 15 organisations supported by Zero Waste Scotland that are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to become champions in their local communities. Be part of the circular economy grass roots revolution by becoming a Zero Waste Volunteer. Find out more by going to project finder and search projects.

Tips for a greener lifestyle

Greener Scotland is a one-stop website for greener living full of ideas, advice and information. Along with topics on reducing waste, you'll find information on greener travel, eating greener and reducing your energy.

Check out the blog for ideas and inspiration. Recent posts include a guest blog from Great British bake-off star Flora Sheddon on food waste, electric cars, sustainability and coffee and greening your home with style.

Business boost

Businesses will be affected by new regulations coming into effect in January 2016. Amendments to the duty of care requirements in Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) requires businesses to take all reasonable steps to separate dry recyclables and food waste for collection. Want to know how these regulations affect you? Recycle for Scotland – Think before you throw

How much money can your business save?

Businesses can achieve significant financial savings through waste prevention, reuse and recycling. A free guide, Save money on waste, published by Resource Efficient Scotland, provides comprehensive advice and a range of free tools to help businesses reduce waste and save money.

There is also plenty of easy to understand guidance on waste regulation and good practice advice for small to medium sized businesses to help manage waste with as little impact on the environment as possible on the NetRegs website.

Use the savings calculator to see what your business can save on bills by putting in place some straightforward efficiency measures.

Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the circular economy

The European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package, which includes revised legislative proposals on waste to stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

The circular economy - a win-win situation:

  • savings of €600 billion for EU businesses, equivalent to 8% of their annual turnover;
  • creation of 580,000 jobs;
  • reduction of EU carbon emissions by 450 million tonnes per year.

Read more about the action plan and watch the video.

What's new on Scotland's environment website?

Invasive non-native species

Learn more about invasive non-native species (INNS) and how they can rapidly spread to become the dominant species in an area or ecosystem, causing adverse ecological, environmental and economic impacts.

You can also now report invasive non-native species in your area, helping collect valuable information to support managing INNS in Scotland.

Protected sites

Information on trends affecting more than 2,000 species and 3,000 habitat features in Scotland is now available on an interactive tool. The Protected Nature Sites interactive database provided by our partner Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is a powerful new way of accessing and viewing this wealth of information. This great new addition to the data analysis family of tools will be particularly useful for land managers and those with an interest in land management.

Video of the month

In this month's video Jon Molyneux from Zero Waste Scotland explains more about waste in Scotland - how much we produce, how its managed and how we can minimise the impacts of waste on our environment.

Serious science - critical raw materials

Global concerns are growing over the availability of secure and adequate supplies of the minerals and metals needed by society. Consumption of most raw materials has increased steadily since World War II, and demand is expected to continue to grow. Of particular concern are critical raw materials, so called because of their growing economic importance and high risk of supply shortage.

The British Geological Society (BGS) are actively involved in research on critical raw materials. Watch their short film and read more about the work they are involved in.

Everyday's a school day

First coined as a phrase in the 1921 by Walter S. Young, "Everyday's a school day" is particularly apt when talking about Scotland's environment website. Acting as a gateway to a huge range of information and data about Scotland's environment, you only have to spend a short time on the website to find out something you never knew before.

In keeping with our theme, here's a few interesting facts about waste in Scotland:

  • Scotland generates nearly 13 million tonnes of controlled waste each year;
  • Nearly half of controlled waste comes from the construction and demolition industries;
  • Household waste recycling has increased from 0.46 million tonnes in 2004 to 1.07 million tonnes in 2013.

Find out more in the waste topic and from the household waste and waste from all sources data analysis applications.

Who's who in waste

Everyone in Scotland has a responsibility for dealing with waste. From the Scottish Government and local authorities to businesses and individuals, we all have a part to play.

The key organisations working across the country to help Scotland become more waste aware and mange our valuable resources more sustainably include:

  • The Scottish Government
  • Zero Waste Scotland
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Local authorities
  • The Scottish Futures Trust
  • Resource Efficient Scotland

Find out more about their roles and what they do.


And finally...

Scotland’s environment web quiz

  • What is a circular economy and why is it important?
  • Find out three ways you can reduce the amount of stuff you waste.
  • How much waste is being recycled across Scotland? What is the target for recycling?
  • Did you know that we are currently recycling about half of our waste in Scotland? Find out what the target is.
  • How do you deal with your waste? Check out the waste hierarchy.

Answers can be found in the video of the month


Adobe Acrobat Reader is the free, trusted leader for reliably viewing, annotating and signing PDFs.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader