JOHN trained at Saltcoats Burgh in the late 60s. After a decade he moved to PD Beatwaste Ltd/ Wimpey Waste Management Ltd. He then joined the Civil Engineering Dept at Strathclyde University before posts at Renfrew, Hamilton,

Inverness and East Ayrshire Councils. A Fellow of CIWM, he served on their Scottish Centre Council from 1988-2009. He is a Fellow of the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and was their President between 1991-92.

Landfill ban creates as many questions as answers

REGULAR readers won’t be surprised that I’ve been the subject of several bans over the years. It began at school. We had to go to a distant block for technical subjects. The main door was at the front but my teacher, Mr McAllister, only allowed third- year scholars and upwards to use it. As a result, fi rst and second year had to go around to the back door to get in or out. On a Friday afternoon, after woodwork lessons, some of us always tried to sneak out the front door but, if Mr McAllister heard us, he’d come out from his offi ce and start shouting, resulting in stampeding children. Usually somebody fell and was trampled by the rest of us. After satisfying himself the faller was ‘good to go’, Mr McAllister then gave him four of ‘the strap’ to remind him about the ban. As a teenager in a small town, underage drinking was a non-starter as all the publicans knew our parents, so we spent many nights in the local cinema. During a boring film we’d jeer and catcall resulting in the cinema manager banning us for a week saying “I hope you’ve learned your lesson”. Around the same time my interest in

golf waned after I’d berated an elderly player, who hadn’t shouted “fore” when his ball narrowly missed me while I was putting. He reported my berating to the club secretary (incidentally, his cousin) and I was banned from the course for three months. But in each case after being banned, there were alternative options available for me. I could have used the right door at the Technical Block; and we could always go to the cinema in the next town – which also had a nine-hole golf course. Being more serious, the latest ban is that Scotland won’t allow untreated municipal waste to be landfi lled after January 2021. It’s another development in an ambitious strategy to secure zero-waste ambitions. I can see the logic behind it; look into any waste storage container and you’ll fi nd a lot of stuff that could have been recycled. Fortnightly waste collections encourage householders to sort out their recyclates, but if there’s still space in the residual bin a day or two before it’s due to be emptied then there’s always the temptation to dump recyclates in it. But the Scottish ban seems to have ignored the question: ‘What’s to happen to this waste before it can be landfi lled?’ SEPA

are understood to have raised concerns there isn’t enough installed treatment capacity in Scotland to handle the additional tonnages the ban will generate. Exporting the surplus to England is one option – as is sending it to mainland Europe for treatment, or disposal – but fi rstly there isn’t enough EfW capacity in the north of England either. Secondly, would a nationalist government really want to expose itself to criticism from the UK political parties if it had to rely on its southern neighbours to solve a problem of its own creation? But wait… there’s more...

Operators of existing landfi lls will now have to revisit their operating costs and review charges in the light of reduced annual tonnages and some might be faced with either hiking up gate fees or closing down. Either way the new ban must have signifi cant fi nancial consequences for Scottish waste producers in both the private and public sectors. For the latter the current pressure to contain and reduce expenditure will only compound the problem. If the politicians were fully briefed before taking this decision, then they must feel it’s the right one.


SHWM September, 2018


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