Pandemic’s tail impacts Scottish waste performance
This is a policy statement and relates to the Official Statistics Publication for Scotland - Scottish Waste From All Sources 2021, published at 9.30am on Tuesday 28 March 2023 and available on SEPA's website.
- Pandemic’s tail impacts Scottish waste performance in 2021 official statistics released by SEPA.
- Significant reduction in waste generated and recycled by construction industry, reflecting reduced economic activity.
- 9.58 million tonnes of waste generated in Scotland in 2021, of which 56.3% was recycled.
The ‘pandemic’s tail’ impacted Scottish waste performance in 2021. New data published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) today reveals Scotland generated 9.58 million tonnes of waste in 2021, of which 56.3% was recycled.
The figures, from SEPA’s Waste From All Sources - Official Statistics, provide details on waste from Scottish households, construction and demolition, and commerce and industry. It is the first full set since the 2018 statistics were published in 2020.
In addition to reduced economic activity, business closures and a change in consumer behaviour due to the coronavirus pandemic, SEPA saw a reduction in the amount of data submitted by companies across the period. As a result of so many changes affecting waste data in 2021, it would be unwise to draw longer-term trend comparisons from these figures.
Certain industries were affected more than others by the pandemic such as construction and demolition. Significant changes within this sector resulted in total waste generated falling below 10 million tonnes for the first time, but also contributed to a lower overall recycling rate in 2021. This is because soil and mineral wastes produced by the industry typically have a relatively high recycling rate. The total amount generated decreased by 32.8% (1.83 million tonnes.)
There was less change in household, commercial and industrial waste generation. This can be attributed to the implementation policies targeted at reducing waste, such as requirements to separate materials for recycling and reduction in the frequency of residual waste collections by local authorities in Scotland.
Andrew Sullivan, Principal Policy Officer at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said:
“These latest figures see the pandemic’s tail impact Scottish waste performance in 2021. They reflect a period of significant disruption in the Scottish economy and society and SEPA is not drawing longer-term trend comparisons from these figures.
“The data does however represent another reminder of the importance of fostering a circular, net zero economy in Scotland, reducing waste and increasing recycling to help tackle the climate emergency.”
SEPA will continue to collect and analyse this important information to support evidence-based decision making in Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.