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Highland Council hails 'significant achievement' on progress towards meeting national landfill ban

By Gregor White

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Highland still lags behind other areas when it comes to recycling.
Highland still lags behind other areas when it comes to recycling.

The Scottish Government has placed a ban on all non-household biodegradable waste going to landfill from 2025.

Highland Council says it has found a solution ahead of schedule.

The council will drastically reduce its landfill by 2023 and achieve full compliance by the end of 2025.

Currently, nearly all of the council’s residual waste – that’s waste that’s not reused or recycled – is sent to landfill. This amounts to 79,000 tonnes every year.

But the council has now awarded a contract for a disposal service that will send residual waste to a energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in East Lothian.

The contract takes effect from January 1 next year and will run for four years, with an optional 36 month contract extension.

Under this deal, 37,000 tonnes of waste will go to East Lothian by 2023/24.

By the end of 2025, all the council’s biodegradable landfill will go there, making Highland fully compliant with the landfill ban.

Looking to the future, the council is exploring two options: to award a longer-term 10-15 year waste contract, or to create our own Highland energy-from-waste plant.

The news comes as the council works to get back on track with waste disposal post-Covid.

Waste collection and household recycling rates dipped in the pandemic, which saw reduced services and recycling centre closures.

Highland Council says 2021 showed an improvement, but performance is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels.

Currently, Highland households recycle just 35.7 per cent of waste, compared to a national average of 42 per cent.

This places Highland Council 25th out of 32 local authorities for recycling rates.

However, it ranks second for residents’ satisfaction with bin services, and top eight for street cleanliness, with a 95 per cent score.

Councillors will consider the latest data at next week’s communities and place committee.

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