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Viridor’s Big Issue Scotland article on what zero waste will mean for communities

July 25, 2011

A zero waste Scotland is filled with possibilities says Viridor

It’s an issue that impacts us all, from children in school to parents in the workplace or at home.  It’s an issue that gets us talking too – from the expanding number and range of bins we have to frustration when bins aren’t emptied.  It’s waste.

But waste is changing.  From wind farms to sustainable waste management, Scotland is at the centre of a green revolution.  We’ve pioneered world leading climate change legislation, are a global centre for emerging energy technologies and have high ambitions for sustainability through enhanced recycling and recovering renewable energy from what remains.

As a nation we’ve changed our focus.  No longer is rubbish to be thrown away, today waste is a resource filled with possibilities.  And we’re doing well.  Recovering around 40% of the domestic waste we produce, recycling has been a real Scottish success story. 

But to go further and avoid increasingly costly landfill levies impacting on our council tax bills the evolution must continue.  Across Scotland, from the Borders to the Highland’s, councils, businesses and communities are gearing up for the next step in our journey to divert 95% of waste from landfill.

With ambitious local and national targets, transforming policy into practice will mean a new network of ‘next generation’ green infrastructure.  And it’s not about incineration – but a mix of modern, proven technologies to drive up recycling and recover green energy from what’s left – the materials that can’t be recycled.

It’s here Viridor is leading.  Part of the FTSE 250 Pennon Group, Viridor is Scotland’s leading recycling, renewable energy and sustainable waste partner.  We support 96% of Scottish local authorities and Scotland’s leading businesses – businesses such as RBS, Scottish Power and Coca Cola Enterprises.

We’ve invested heavily in advanced recycling infrastructure in Scotland, from plastics, paper and can recycling, to glass and the recycling of e-waste.  And we’re going further.  Over the coming years we’ll invest some £800m in Scottish zero waste infrastructure, helping Scotland rank amongst the best in Europe for sustainable resource management.  In doing so we’ll create new markets for recyclables and harness renewable energy from what’s left.

We’ll work flat out to maximise community benefits across the country.  Already our investment is paying dividends, with green jobs for professionals, for graduates, new entrants and those on work placements.  We’re working today with universities, colleges, local authorities, regeneration agencies and educational partnerships. 

The Scottish Government estimates the potential to create 2,000 jobs, with new zero waste infrastructure accelerating opportunities, including apprenticeships in both construction and operational phases of development projects.  We will work to ensure accessibility for all.

Zero waste will unleash the potential for zero waste to build capacity within social enterprises and SMEs – developing innovative engagement programmes, promoting procurement opportunities, providing support in the bid process and tendering contracts to encourage participation.

We’re rightly proud of our pioneering educational partnerships – from Scottish sponsorship of the Engineering Development Trust’s Go4SET secondary school programme and national final held at Glasgow City Chambers, to work with further education, primary, nursery and community organisations – zero waste will develop the potential in our young people.

Scotland has a rich history.  It’s a history of innovation, heritage, landscape and environment.  As a nation we’ve stepped up to the recycling challenge and look forward to the possibilities the next steps will bring: direct and indirect benefits, new products, new markets and green energy.  Green jobs and training, supporting social enterprise and SMEs, and empowering our young people through education and information.

As Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP said:  “Companies such as Viridor are giving us the means to achieve these targets, now we must step up to the mark and make it happen.”

Martin Grey is Scottish External Affairs Manager for Viridor, UK Recycling and Waste Management Company of the Year



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