Sustainability

UK landfill tax to be replaced in Scotland

landfill

UK landfill tax may be replaced in Scotland following the introduction of a new landfill tax bill to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (17 April), which aims to tackle the issue of illegal waste disposal.

Should it be passed, the Landfill Tax (Scotland) Bill will replace the UK Landfill Tax in Scotland from 1 April 2015. From that date, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) would assume responsibility for the administration of landfill tax, helping to ‘tackle the problem of unauthorised dumping activity and encourage the proper disposal and recycling of materials’.

On proposing the bill, Finance Secretary John Swinney, said: “Today we have taken a further step toward setting a new landfill tax for Scotland which will better reflect Scottish values and Scottish circumstances.

“I am eager to use this opportunity to ensure that landfill tax, environmental protection legislation, regulation and compliance regimes are all aligned and working in the best interests of our environment and our economy.”

Bill will ‘support the development of alternative waste technologies’

Currently, administration of landfill tax in Scotland is handled by the UK government, with only legal activities facing charges.

According to SEPA Chief Executive, James Curran, implementation of the bill would “encourage waste minimisation and support the development of alternative waste technologies and reusing waste as a resource". It will also help "create a level playing field for operators by tackling the problem of illegal waste dumping”.

He continued: “I am pleased that SEPA will be collecting the tax as it will help improve the efficiency of the collection process in Scotland, further develop our relationship with landfill operators, and ensure that environmental criminals pay their dues, as well as supporting the positive work of Environmental Bodies throughout Scotland.”

Furthermore, the bill would introduce a 'Scottish communities fund', aimed at supporting ‘environmental organisations’ and assisting 'communities… in close proximity to landfill sites'.

Of the fund, Swinney said: “One opportunity this opens for Scotland would be to increase the amount that is invested in the communities fund to improve surroundings and mitigate against the impact landfill has on communities.

“The changes we are making show that where we have the powers we are able to design a system better suited to Scotland’s interests. Only in an independent Scotland, where Scotland has full control over all economic levers, will the interests of Scotland be best served."  

Voluntary Commitment

In other news, from today (19 April), Scottish SMEs and ‘other businesses’ will be able to sign a voluntary commitment ‘designed to set consistent standards for business waste collections’, reducing waste and saving money.

Developed by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) in association with the Scottish Environmental Services Association (SESA), the Resource Sector Commitment has been introduced ahead of new Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which are due to come into effect from January 2014.

Under the new legislation, businesses will be required to separate paper and card, plastic, metal and glass for recycling by January 2014. Businesses that produce more than 50 kilogrammes (kg) of food waste per week will also need to separate this for collection, this will be extended to those that produce over 5kg by 2016.

Under the commitment, open to any organisation that ‘provides waste or resource management services to business customers in Scotland, businesses will be obliged to:

  • provide customers with high quality recycling services;
  • give advice on preventing waste and using resources efficiently;
  • have user-friendly contracts and charging structures; and
  • enable customers to give feedback

LochheadSpeaking of the commitment, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead (right) said: “We have set ambitious national recycling targets and want to make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to play their part in delivering a zero waste society.

“Scotland’s Resource Sector Commitment is an opportunity for councils, the private sector and community sector to demonstrate real support for zero waste as well as committing to provide high quality and consistent services to their customers."

Director of ZWS Iain Gulland, added:  “The new regulations which come into force next year will help transform how Scotland manages its resources, moving away from the idea of waste as a cost and a burden, instead seeing waste management companies as resource providers to a sustainable economy.

“This new commitment will help drive that transformation.  Importantly it will mean businesses, especially SMEs, can benefit from high quality recycling services as well as extra help to reduce waste, for example by taking advantage of support from our new Resource Efficient Scotland programme.”

The commitment follows the official launch of a new resource efficiency advice and support service, Resource Emissions Scotland.

Read more about Zero Waste Scotland.