Total environmental impact of Scotland’s waste revealed in updated carbon metric

Zero Waste Scotland has today published an update to its ground-breaking Carbon Metric which measures the environmental impact of waste, a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change.

2 Oct 13

The updated metric now covers the total impact of all waste, including carbon emissions from producing and recycling as well as from its disposal.   Through it we can now calculate that the carbon impact of Scotland’s waste in 2011 was 14MtCO2eq, equivalent to two million flights around the world.

This 2011 baseline will be used to measure progress on the Scottish Government’s new Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources action plan, also launched today, which builds on the country’s Zero Waste Plan but shifts the focus to waste prevention and resource efficiency.  The actions it proposes are expected to reduce the carbon impact of waste by 22% by 2025.

The updated carbon metric will be used by policy makers to help implement and measure the effectiveness of waste policies.

It is accompanied by an online tool which can be used by businesses, local authorities and other organisations to understand the impacts associated with their waste and how they can be reduced, as well as helping to quantify the progress they are making.  For more information visit:

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Scotland is once again leading the way in terms of considering the environmental impact of waste and resource use.

“The new carbon metric is a unique approach, which takes into account the emissions associated with the full life cycle of products and materials and clearly shows the benefits of reducing our use of primary raw materials.

“It’s an important tool for us nationally and for individual organisations to understand their impact and measure progress as we head towards zero waste.  It also reinforces the main message of the new Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources plan – that reducing resource use and preventing waste deliver the biggest environmental benefits.”


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