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Recycling Improvement Fund (RIF) application process and eligibility criteria

01 Dec 23 3 minute read

Zero Waste Scotland is on hand to support local authorities throughout the Recycling Improvement Fund (RIF) application process.

Zero Waste Scotland manages 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.  

Application development support

Local authorities interested in developing an application can contact their Recycling Partner for an application form. Partners will provide detailed advice on the scope of the fund, the types of projects, 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 and Project Management Guidance Document

Application criteria

Applications to the fund should be developed in line with the aims and objectives and the following weighted 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.

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 to an application prior to being assessed.  

Draft applications in advance of these dates allows Zero Waste Scotland to give advice and support 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
25 April 202415 March 2024
20 June 202410 May 2024
26 Sept 202423 August 2024
05 December 202431 October 2024

Future submission deadlines and dates for board meetings will be published here in due course. 

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

An Application Assessment Panel, comprising a minimum of three suitably experienced and skilled staff from the Zero Waste Scotland Recycling Improvement Fund Team plus an independent external assessor, carry out assessments of each fund application. A financial and a communications evaluation are carried out to help inform the individual assessments.  

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

  1. Development: Application is developed with Recycling Partner and submitted to Zero Waste Scotland.

  2. Assessment and Moderation: Application is assessed by individual panel members and then a Panel Meeting is held to reach a consensus.

  3. Approval: The Panel's recommendation is presented to the RIF board for consideration, who are responsible for approving recommendations.

  4. Decision: The RIF board's decision is shared with the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy & Biodiversity who ratifies the funding decision.

  5. Response: Applicants are informed of the funding decision within three weeks of the RIF board meeting.