Members of the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland and Local Authorities at the launch of the Recycling Improvement Fund

Recycling Improvement Fund

27 Jan 23

The Scottish Government launched a £70 million five-year Recycling Improvement Fund (RIF) in 2021 to provide opportunities for capital funding grants for local authorities to improve recycling infrastructure and services across Scotland.

The Fund is one of the biggest investments in recycling infrastructure to date and aims to accelerate progress towards Scotland’s ambitious waste and recycling targets and net zero commitments.

Local authorities across Scotland are encouraged to apply to the fund to take forward projects that will increase both the quantity and quality of recycling whilst delivering wider environmental benefits. Partnership approaches are encouraged where there is potential to maximise impact.

Application proposals must be consistent with the overarching aim of the fund, which is to “accelerate progress towards 2025 waste and recycling targets and Scotland’s net-zero carbon commitment, by strengthening and improving local authority recycling infrastructure, resulting in increased consistency of collection, improvements to the quality and quantity of material collected, and wider environmental and carbon benefits”.

The total grant allocation will be budgeted annually, subject to regular review, with the current allocation noted below:

  • Year 1 - £5,300,000;
  • Year 2 - £16,000,000;
  • Year 3 - £18,650,000;
  • Year 4 - £15,600,000;
  • Year 5 - £14,500,000.

*Year 1 underspend to be reallocated to future years. Funding profile subject to review.

Several local authority awards have been made to date for a diverse range of projects including service changes to increase kerbside and communal recycling provision, in-cab technologies to support operational efficiencies, and new treatment infrastructure to sort and recycle plastic films.

Application Development Support

Zero Waste Scotland will manage and administer the Fund across its five-year life. Scottish local authorities are invited to develop and submit applications to the Fund in collaboration with their appointed Zero Waste Scotland Recycling Partner. Building on our strong relationships and existing support offering, our Recycling Team is committed to working proactively with our local authority partners to explore and develop impactful applications to the Fund.

Local authorities seeking to develop an application can obtain an Application Form by contacting their allocated Recycling Partner. Partners will provide detailed advice on the scope of the Fund, the types of projects being sought, the application process, and will also give one-to-one support to assist with the development of an in-scope application. Full guidance on how to complete the Application Form, including details of the assessment process, can be found in the Application & Project Management Guidance Document.

Applications to the Fund should be developed in line with the above-mentioned aims and objectives of the fund and the following criteria:

  • Evidence-led;
  • Impact and Transformation;
  • Strategic and Collaborative;
  • Feasibility;
  • Acceptability;
  • Additionality.

A full description of each of the above criteria, along with the requirements for an application to achieve an ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘acceptable’, ‘poor’, or ‘not acceptable’ score against each can be found below.

Zero Waste Scotland staff will be on hand to provide significant experience and support across all stages of project development, from initial concept development to planning, procurement, and implementation.

Application Submission

Local authorities must submit their completed applications no later than five weeks prior to the Recycling Improvement Fund Board’s scheduled meeting dates. This will ensure there is sufficient time for clarifications to be discussed and final amendments made where necessary to an application prior to being assessed. 

Zero Waste Scotland welcomes the submission of draft applications in advance of these deadlines to allow advice and support to be given to ensure that the application is as strong as possible when it is submitted for assessment.

The dates of future Board meetings and corresponding submission deadlines are listed below:

Date of Board meetingSubmission Deadline
28 September 202224 August 2022
14 December 20229 November 2022
7 March 20237 February 2023
31 May 202326 April 2023
27 September 202323 August 2023
13 December 20238 November 2023

Completed applications should be submitted to Zero Waste Scotland via the following email address:

Please note that in some circumstances it may be beneficial to delay the submission of an application to increase the likelihood of success at a later RIF Board meeting. Your appointed Zero Waste Scotland Recycling Partner will advise on whether an application is sufficiently developed and fit to be submitted for assessment.

Application Assessment

The assessment of completed applications is undertaken by a minimum of three suitably experienced and skilled staff from the Zero Waste Scotland Recycling Improvement Fund Team who convene the Application Assessment Panel. 

Applications assessed by the Panel are summarised and presented to the Recycling Improvement Fund Board with a recommendation on whether to fund, part-fund, or reject. The Board consists of representation from COSLA, SOLACE, SEPA, Zero Waste Scotland, and the Scottish Government. The Board considers the applications and makes a funding recommendation to the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.  

Zero Waste Scotland aims to communicate all funding decisions back to local authorities within three weeks of a Board meeting and will confirm the outcome of decisions to applicants in writing.

Summary of Application Development and Assessment Process

Diagram showing the RIF Application Development and Assessment Process

Funded Projects

To date, a total of £56.8m has been awarded for 27 projects from 19 local authorities across Scotland.

The funded projects are expected to divert approximately 43,367 tonnes of material per annum for recycling or reuse, resulting in carbon savings in the region of 48,913 tonnes CO2e per annum.

Expand the list below to view.

Local AuthorityProjectFunding awarded
Comhairle nan Eilean SiarRedesign of collection service, purchase of collection containers, including bins and bottle banks, and purchase of electric refuse collection vehicle£846,012
EdinburghRedesign of waste and recycling service to approximately 130,000 households through installing on-street recycling close to residents’ dwellings£8,491,490
West LothianService change to charter aligned twin-stream service, improvements to communal collection points, introduction of road end collections, and the purchase of Transformative Data Gathering chips£3,953,034
Aberdeen CityRadio Frequency ID tags for communal bins£209,760
Aberdeen CityExpansion of reuse service at Hazlehead Recycling Centre£34,959
Aberdeen CityImprovement works at Sclattie waste transfer station to increase recycling and reuse£933,668
AberdeenshireIn-cab technology and route optimisation software for full fleet£189,168
North AyrshireIn-cab technology to target contamination and improve route efficiency£6,856
MidlothianIn cab technology to monitor collections and target contamination£34,100
MidlothianKerbside service change£2,477,612
DundeeIn-cab technology to target contamination and improve route efficiency£87,962
ClackmannanshireIn-cab technology to target contamination and improve route efficiency£29,503
ClackmannanshireIntroduction of twin-stream kerbside recycling£583,890
AberdeenshireService change to 3-Weekly Cycle to align with Scotland’s Charter for Household Recycling£3,540,415
East LothianService change to Household Charter aligned weekly recycling service£2,746,566
FifePlastic film recycling through installing a new optical sorter within a Material Recovery Facility£470,000
GlasgowTwin stream kerbside recycling and construction of a new Material Recycling Facility£21,202,000
Perth & Kinross Expansion of recycling service to Perth City Centre and introduction of twin-steam recycling collection service to kerbside properties£2,532,548
HighlandIntroduction of twin-stream kerbside recycling and expansion of weekly food waste collection service£6,550,302
HighlandExpansion of garden waste collection service£205,965
MidlothianExtension of Food Waste Collection£132,085
North AyrshireHousehold Waste Recycling Centre improvements, including infrastructure to support reuse of furniture and mattresses£74,535
North LanarkshireImprovements to communal recycling for flatted properties£276,388
StirlingUpgrade their household waste recycling centres and expand the reuse of items in partnership with Transition Stirling and NHS Forth Valley£234,035
South AyrshirePurchase of on-the-go recycling bins£89,535
South AyrshireIntroduction of recycling bins to schools£166,090
RenfrewshireHousehold Waste Recycling Centre improvements to maximise recycling and reuse opportunities£374,370
Angus CouncilIntroduction of twin stream kerbside service£2,843,472
Argyll and Bute Improvements to Household Waste Recycling Centres£891,945
East Ayrshire Communal recycling£139,843