Recovering both materials and energy from waste is not just an environmental obligation but a real economic opportunity, a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has heard.
Speaking to the committee, Viridor’s Head of Public Affairs, Martin Grey said: “Scottish policy is progressive, focused firmly on waste reduction, reuse, enhanced recycling (a target of 70% by 2025) and recovering energy in Scotland from what remains.”
Viridor, which is investing £500 million in Scottish recycling and waste to energy infrastructure, has called for an environment which encourages future investment.
The committee, chaired by nationalist Graeme Day MSP and former Zero Waste Scotland manager, now Conservative MSP, Maurice Golden, held a special one-day inquiry into progress on Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy – ‘Making Things Last’, published in 2016.
This comes hot on the heels of the committee’s work on a proposed Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland, with Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP stating last week that any such proposal would be included in a forthcoming Circular Economy Bill.
With the committee accepting an offer to visit Viridor’s £11 million Bargeddie Recycling Hub, opened by former Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead in 2009, Grey said: “Scottish Government’s globally ambitious circular economy strategy is a real success story, focused on not just environmental obligation, but on economic opportunity,”
“Scotland is punching above its weight on the world stage and it’s that leadership, policy and regulatory stability, which has driven Viridor’s investments across Scotland, creating jobs and economic opportunities,” he added
According to Grey, from the investor’s perspective, the last 10 years were about investment in rolling-out recycling services and infrastructure. The last five years were about recovery and landfill diversion, including Viridor’s £154 million Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre and £177 million Dunbar ERF.
Grey also noted sector calls for standardisation, aggregation and material quality which aligned with innovation and collaboration. These he said will be real drivers for that next generation of investment and further moves towards the economic opportunity of circularity.
This focus was evidenced in the Scottish Household Charter, which aims to standardise collections across Scotland’s 32 local authorities; the Material Recycling Facility (MRF) Code of Practice, which would increase transparency on the quality of materials collected by councils across Scotland, and the Scottish Materials Brokerage Service, which Zero Waste Scotland describes as a “one-stop-shop for growing Scotland’s reprocessing sector, helping local authorities and the public sector get a better deal for the recycled materials collected in their communities”.
He also pointed to Viridor’s £25 million investment in an advanced glass recycling hub, developed on a former waste crime site at Newhouse, North Lanarkshire. The hub, one of the most advanced in Europe, is making a significant contribution to boosting the sustainability of the UK’s No 2 export, Scotch Whisky.
“In 2013, the Scottish Government had a vision that it wanted to boost sustainability in our number 1 export, which is Scotch whisky,” explained Grey.
“As a result, it decided that it wanted to develop further processing capacity in that area. Because of that policy direction from the Scottish Government, Viridor invested £25 million in what is genuinely one of Europe’s most advanced glass recycling facilities, at Newhouse,” he said.
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