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Viridor calls for Scottish Resource Networks as part COP 21 response

10th December 2015

Scottish Government should move quickly to develop a series of regional resource networks as part of its UN COP 21 Climate Change response. That was the key finding of a policy paper published today (10th December 2015) by Scotland’s leading resources, recycling and renewable energy company, Viridor launched at a major Scotland 2020 international conference in Edinburgh.

The report, presented by Viridor at the “Scotland Day” event at the Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change, highlights the steps needed to be taken by Scotland to address country recycling rates of 42.8% and move to a more circular economy which has the potential to deliver vital growth to Scotland’s economy.

“Scotland Day”, a one-day event co-sponsored by Viridor and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, showcases the collaborative approach taken by Scotland with its partners including the Scottish Government, SEPA and others, to tackle climate change and drive a low-carbon economy.

The key findings of Viridor’s report state that:

  • Scotland stands at a cross-roads – current resource management systems are no longer fit for purpose.
  • Local authorities need to focus more on the value of resources to the Scottish economy.
  • Collection and processing systems will need to operate on a more aggregated model to meet the needs of quality-focused reprocessors and manufacturers.
  • Fully-integrated Resource Networks should look to Europe’s largest public/private resource partnership in Manchester which has attracted inward investment from manufacturers and contributes significantly to decentralised energy provision.
  • Resource Networks offer the next steps for Scotland’s resources policy and align with the EU’s circular economy agenda.

Dan Cooke, Director of External Affairs, Viridor said:

“Scottish recycling policy remains largely based on outdated assumptions about resources which reinforce expensive, resource management systems that were designed in a different age for a bygone era when collections were based on geographic areas and an overall objective of reducing transport costs.

“Therefore, even now decisions about collections, contracts and infrastructure are still often based on arbitrary political boundaries by authorities not focused on the value of resources to the Scottish economy.

“This situation is made worse by the current pressures on local authority funding which mean that even existing recycling systems are being undermined. There is therefore no doubt that the current resource management systems are no longer fit for purpose.

“The report recognises the solid progress that Scotland has made towards reaching the goals of the circular economy in terms of improved recycling and resource management. We applaud the excellent leadership shown by the Scottish Government towards the green economy. But the report points out where more could be done such as developing fully-integrated Resource Networks focused on the availability of high quality materials. There is a significant opportunity for Scotland’s political parties to commit to the adoption of Resource Networks that would position the country as the leader in European resource management.”

Viridor has called on the Scottish Government to consider:

  • Recognising, as part of national infrastructure and resilience policy, the economic opportunity of Scotland’s resources and move to establish a new, economy-wide model, setting mandatory common standards for collections by councils.
  • Piloting standard collections on specific materials such as glass or ewaste.
  • Extending the discussion with local authorities on how their duties are currently defined as Waste Disposal and Collection Authorities and fund research through CoSLA and the Scottish Cities Alliance on the viability of new collection authorities able to take advantage of size and scale, and better able to meet the resource needs of city-regions.
  • Developing a Scottish Resource Networks Innovation Fund to allow councils or new collection authorities to bid for finance to realise the opportunity of the ‘Household Recycling Charter’ and to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefit of an aggregated services model.
  • Innovating and driving the above through the creation of a Scottish Resource Council (a Scottish OfRes) to strengthen the Government’s ability to to respond strategically to resource supply threats.

Scotland’s circular economy continues to moves forward in a positive direction. In September this year, Viridor opened a £25m Scottish Glass Recycling facility in Newhouse, Lanarkshire in the presence of Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP. The recycling centre, the most advanced in the UK, is able to recycle 200,000 tonnes of glass per year, representing 150% of all glass packaging collected in Scotland.

The Newhouse facility encapsulates Scotland’s vision of the circular economy by translating Scottish Government policy into practice. The glass recycling centre contributes directly to the Scottish economy by recycling glass for the country’s whisky industry. Whisky remains Scotland’s largest export but currently the industry uses imported glass to manufacture its bottles.

With Newhouse, the finished recycled glass product will achieve up to 99% purity with 97% of input materials being recovered. The service provided by the centre will boost local authority recycling performance whilst supporting local collection flexibility.


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