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Recycling Improvement Fund

Zero Waste Scotland is administering a brand new £70m fund set to transform Scotland’s recycling infrastructure.

The Scottish Government’s Recycling Improvement Fund, launched on Global Recycling Day, invites applications from all local authorities in Scotland to submit projects to improve services and treatment infrastructure.

Local authorities across Scotland are urged to apply to the fund, to help drive new innovations and improvements to recycling in their area and across Scotland. 

Net Zero Ambitions

The five-year £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund, part of the Programme for Government, aims to accelerate progress towards Scotland’s ambitious waste and recycling targets and net zero commitment.

It is one of the biggest single investments by the Scottish Government in recycling infrastructure to date.

The fund will be transformational in helping communities move to a more circular economy, where materials and products are kept in use for as long as possible, and where new economic opportunities and social benefits flourish, as we move away from short-term, wasteful, throwaway approaches.

Exciting opportunities

£16 million is available in the first year of the five-year fund. 

This will give local authorities the opportunity to take forward small and large-scale projects that increase both the quality and quantity of recycling, whilst delivering wider environmental benefits.

This could include:

  • promoting waste prevention or reuse;
  • improving the consistency of collections;
  • collecting problematic materials such as electrical items;
  • improving sorting and treatment infrastructure;
  • introducing new low-carbon technologies that would deliver wider environmental benefits, or encouraging behaviour change. 

Expressions of Interest

Zero Waste Scotland is actively seeking local authority infrastructure treatment or service projects for support, which will meet the funding criteria. 

The Zero Waste Scotland team are available to discuss potential projects and to support the development of applications for funding.

Background Information

New survey data indicates increased concern for the environment and greater usage of recycling services, since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, according to new research for Zero Waste Scotland.

The results, from 1000 Scots who responded to an online panel survey, show that:

  • Almost half the population (46%) state that they have become more concerned about the environment since the start of the pandemic;
  • Since the start of the pandemic, the vast majority of survey respondents (92%) say they are recycling the same amount, or more than before. This indicates increased usage of recycling services;
  • Women, younger age groups (18-34) people with children and people living in flats or tenements were particularly likely say they were recycling more;
  • Key stated reasons for recycling more included an increased quantity to recycle (e.g. packaging from deliveries, more food consumed at home) and more time at home.

Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland's CEO added:

“On Global Recycling Day, these survey results indicate an increasing concern of Scots for protecting our environment, and a stated increase in positive recycling behaviours, influenced by lifestyle changes. It underlines the need for a truly green recovery as we move out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the crucial role of transformation initiatives such as the Recycling Improvement Fund, which will increase recycling, reuse and waste prevention options for people and communities across Scotland, as we move to a more circular economy.”

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