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Waste Strategy Consultation ARCHIVE - ENDED 17 APRIL


Since the Aberdeen City Waste Strategy was published in 2001 there have been a number of significant changes in relation to waste management:

  • Waste Policy: Scottish Government Waste Management Targets
  • Legislative:Landfill Directive and subordinate regulation
  • Technical:Development of new technologies for treating waste

As a result of these changes, a review of the Waste Strategy is now required.

For many, waste management is summed up by the phrase 'just make it disappear'. It only affects individuals when waste either does not 'disappear' or making it 'disappear' has a negative impact for example; traffic in their neighbourhood or the development of a waste treatment facility nearby.

There is a greater awareness of waste and environmental issues following the introduction of recycling collections from households. Waste management is now seen as an essential public service and a complex area of public policy, which overlaps many areas including: planning for land use, transport, environmental impacts, energy and economic development.

In revising our strategy Aberdeen City Waste would like to further develop the wider understanding of the impact of waste management on its citizens and their lives. To do this we have established key themes, which we hope, will reflect the wider impact and integration of waste with other policy areas.


In addition to national changes to waste management policy, on 13 February 2008 Aberdeen City Council adopted a Transformation Strategy for Waste Management Services The Transformation Strategy focuses on short-term solutions and sets out a road map to achieving the Council's target of 40% Recycling and Composting of Municipal Waste by 2011. The infrastructure required to implement the Transformation Strategy would continue to provide capacity for recycling and composting service delivery in the medium and longer term.

When completed, the new Aberdeen City Waste Strategy combined with the Transformation strategy will focus on management of the all waste produced in Aberdeen City. This includes both commercial and household waste management solutions, waste reduction and residual waste management and recycling and composting up to 2025.

Financial Implications

The economics of waste management is changing.

  • The cost of sending municipal waste to landfill is increasing. Between 2007/08 and 2010/11, the landfill tax will double to £48/tonne increasing the municipal waste disposal budget by £2.4 million or 40%.
  • Failure to meet landfill limits set by the Scottish Government could result in penalties to Aberdeen City Council of £150/tonne.
    • On current projections, this would lead to another £2.4 million cost increase in 2010/11.
  • The net cost of increased landfill charges means that other waste treatment options will be cost neutral short term and less expensive within 2-3 years.

All trends in waste management point to the need to reduce landfilling of municipal waste on both economic and environmental grounds.

By comparison, future energy costs are anticipated to rise and there will be an increasing drive to diversify energy sources both for electricity generation and heat use. Failure to utilise residual waste for energy generation would be a lost opportunity to gain revenue from waste management.

Key Themes

In this first phase of consultation for the revised Aberdeen City Waste Strategy, Aberdeen City Council is seeking views on the six key themes the final strategy will be based upon. We feel these six key themes encapsulate the major challenges facing the city and reflect the wider impacts of waste management on the city and the environment as a whole. The themes seek to establish preferred positions that will form the framework for the full waste strategy. We would like your opinions and views on these key themes as outlined below

Key Theme 1: "Waste growth should be a major consideration in our Waste Strategy."

Waste Growth

The amount of waste households and businesses create in the future must be considered as it will affect the size and capacity required for waste treatment facilities. If waste production is assumed to grow at the historical rate 3% per annum, 75% more waste will be generated 20 years from now. Facilities to handle waste must be scaled to take account of projected growth and therefore setting waste growth or reduction is a major consideration. If facilities are too small, other outlets will have to be found, at present, this means commercial landfill. If facilities are too big, the cost of operation will increase or other wastes have to be found to fill capacity.

Waste growth in a community has been linked to three major factors:

  • Economic Growth – increase in waste produced per person
  • Population – increase in community size increases total waste
  • Size of Household – waste produced per person decreases as household size increases

To date, waste production has increased as economic growth is achieved. There are encouraging signs that this link is breaking. The population of Aberdeen is anticipated to rise slightly in coming years before levelling off and then fall slightly in the medium to long term. Household size is anticipated to decrease, which will result in an increase in total waste produced by the same number of people.

We expect that the combination of these factors suggests a reduction in waste growth over time leading to waste reducing from the medium (5-7 year) term onwards.

Key Theme 2: "Recycling and composting targets must be set that are challenging but deliverable rather than aspirational."

Setting of Targets and establishing Best Practical Environmental Option

The Scottish Government has outlined national municipal Waste and Recycling Targets:

Recycling and Composting

  • 2011 - 40%
  • 2013 - 50%
  • 2020 - 60%
  • 2020 - 70%
  • A limit of 25% of Energy from Waste
  • A limit of 5% landfill in 2025
  • Waste Growth will be reduced to zero by 2010.

These are Scotland-wide targets. Aberdeen City Council's position is that these recycling levels are unrealistic in Aberdeen City due to a number of factors that distinguish this city from other cities in Scotland.

1. We have a high proportion of multi-occupancy properties, which creates difficulty in providing a wide range of collections and containers for these households.
2. By acceptance of 'inspirational' targets and what appears to be an arbitrary limit on Energy from Waste (EfW), we accept a high probability of maintaining the 'environmentally worst solution' which is using landfill as a 'default' option should EfW capacity be reached and recycling levels not be achieved.

Given this, Aberdeen City Council proposes the following 'working' targets for Aberdeen City's waste. These will be tested in terms of their environmental impact, deliverability, cost-effective and publicly acceptable but are presented as a starting point for this consultation.

Municipal Recycling and Composting

  • 2011 - 40%
  • 2013 - 45%
  • 2020 - 50%
  • 2025 - 55%
  • Energy from Waste should not exceed 45% by 2020 and 40% by 2025.
  • The minimum amount of waste should be sent to landfill at the earliest opportunity and only 5% of municipal waste should be land filled by 2025.
  • Waste Growth in the region will be reduced to zero by 2015.
  • Non-municipal waste solutions should be encouraged in line with these targets and capacity should be incorporated into planning policies (City Region/Development Plans)

The recycling targets are in line with the recently revised European Union Waste Framework Directive adopted by EU Environment Ministers on 20 October 2008.

Key Theme 3: "Gaining value from all wastes including residual or 'black bin' waste should be included in our strategy."

Gaining value from waste – 'Getting Something from Nothing'

In industry, waste is no longer regarded as a problem but is seen as something of value. Aberdeen City Council Waste Strategy will assume that benefit should be obtained from all materials thrown away by households and business. Wherever possible this should be achieved through material recovery. By which we mean that items should be either reused or recycled through the conversion of a waste product into another material resource. For example, composting organic waste into a soil conditioner is material recovery.

Where this is not suitable, for example with residual waste, the energy value should be recovered. In this way, Aberdeen will be able to gain benefit from what has historically been considered worthless and a drain on our community's resources. We believe that all efforts should be made to avoid land filling of waste.

Key Theme 4: "Generation of heat and power from residual waste is compatible with Aberdeen's status as energy capital of Europe and other energy-based policy themes."

Energy from Waste

There are many strands of public policy in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire that put energy at the heart of economic development:

  • ACSEF's Economic Action Plan for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire identifies energy as a key theme for the future success of the region.
  • Aberdeen City brands itself as Energy Capital of Europe and local area plans include the Energetica economic development zone and the Energy Futures Centre.
  • Aberdeen City Council takes an active role in the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.
  • Aberdeen has also led the way in Scotland in promoting and developing decentralised energy solutions in the city.

Aberdeen City Council sees energy from waste as complimentary to this energy-centred agenda, particularly where combined heat and power (CHP) is included.

CHP from waste can be a valuable magnet for economic development. Energy - and heat - (or cooling) industry can be attracted by the provision of reliable, cost-stable energy generated from waste.

Aberdeen City Council promotes the recovery of value from residual waste through combined heat and power production. We feel that modern incineration and other thermal treatment technologies, in conjunction with CHP, are considered appropriate solutions in industrial settings in and around Aberdeen city.

Key Theme 5: "The proximity principle should a major consideration when making waste management decisions, especially in respect of residual waste."

Proximity Principle

The basis of the 'proximity principle' is that waste should be disposed of or managed as close to the point of generation as possible.

Aberdeen City Council considers this a significant criterion on grounds of community responsibility as well as sustainability and economic value.

We recognise that when considering material recovery of recycling materials, markets are global and the availability of reprocessing facilities may require proximity issues be a lower priority. However, for residual waste, we feel it is possible for the region to develop cost-effective treatment facilities.

As a result, we propose that new facilities should be developed as close to the point of waste arising as possible.

This would include sites in the city of Aberdeen where it has been demonstrated to be the best option in terms of planning, community benefit/impact, environmental impacts and transport. This is particularly relevant to energy from waste facilities where the success of utilising the heat produced will be dependent on the availability of a wide range of recipients from industrial, commercial and housing developments.

Key Theme 6: "The Aberdeen City Waste Strategy should incorporate consideration of non-municipal waste."

Non-municipal Waste

Municipal (household) waste accounts for only approximately 14% of total waste produced. The remainder is from construction, demolition, industrial, commercial and agricultural sources.

National waste policy has only set specific targets for municipal (household) waste. Management of waste generated from the commercial and industrial sectors is only influenced by Government policy through the Landfill Tax.

In the absence of other policy instruments, Aberdeen City Council feels that it is essential that the new Waste Strategy should incorporate non-municipal waste. We believe that we should provide a strategic lead on infrastructure requirements for these sectors. By linking the Waste Strategy into planning guidance we can ensure sustainable development of waste services that underpin strong industrial and commercial growth.

Consultation on Key Themes

The key themes form the basis of this consultation. This consultation is intended to establish broad policy positions that will have a determining effect on the final Waste Strategy. By undertaking this consultation, Aberdeen City Council aims to ensure that over-arching themes are identified, debated and a common position established before developing detailed policies, objectives and position statements.

The closing date has now been extended to the 17 April 2009.


The consultation will be open to all but there will be particular emphasis on engaging key stakeholders, opinion-formers and those individuals and groups with known interest in waste management. The consultation will also seek to engage as wide a range of community groups and individuals as possible.

Publication of Strategy

Aberdeen City Council will incorporate the results of the consultation into the draft Waste Strategy and a final version produced for approval. Once approved the Waste Strategy will be published and communicated as widely as possible.


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Please return comments to:

  • Peter Lawrence
    Strategist - Environment
    4th Floor, Balgownie 1
    AB23 8AQ