The composition of municipal waste in Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland has published the first detailed national-level study into the composition of municipal waste in Scotland.

12 Apr 10

Based on sampling of waste from eight Scottish councils, the research provides a detailed picture of the overall composition of municipal waste and its main constituent streams.

It highlights a number of opportunities to increase recycling, including of commonly recyclable materials.

Key Points

  • The largest elements in municipal waste, by weight, are: paper and card (21%); food and kitchen waste (18%); garden waste (16%); other combustibles (wood, nappies, etc – 13%); and dense plastics (6%).
  • There are still opportunities to increase recycling of the most common recyclable items.
  • For example: Newspapers and magazines – 67% are currently recycled
  • For example: Glass bottles – 44% are currently recycled
  • For example: Metal cans – 22% are currently recycled
  • For example: Other Paper and Cardboard – 26% is currently recycled
  • For example: Plastic bottles – 19% are currently recycled
  • Food waste is another major opportunity to increase recycling and reduce waste – at the moment it makes up around a third of household rubbish bins and 4% is collected for recycling or composting.
  • There are further opportunities to increase recycling from small businesses and schools through council trade waste collections, especially by focusing on paper, card and food waste.
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