In the Chamber: Rhoda’s question on Plastic Waste

Rhoda’s question on Plastic Waste
Scottish Parliament
14 November 2018
Rhoda :
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the forthcoming ban on the burning of plastics on farms, what contingency plans it has should the market approach to recycling farm plastic not work.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Roseanna Cunningham):
The relevant amendment to the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations was made in 2013 and a group was established in autumn 2016 to plan the transition towards a position where the ban could be enforced.
The group had membership from NFU Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government and several waste plastics collectors and reprocessors.
The transition to full enforcement has therefore been carefully considered.
In most areas of the country there are recycling collection services available and I am advised that, since the announcement, the network has expanded. That is one of the reasons why a transition period until 1 January 2019 is in place.
SEPA has published clear guidance for farmers to help them decide how best to dispose of plastic waste, and there are also local SEPA offices across Scotland that can provide more direct assistance.
Rhoda :
I have been contacted by crofters in rural Scotland and in island communities, who say that there are no recycling facilities local to them.
There is a concern that the only option that they have is to bury the plastics, which will have a knock-on effect on the environment and on animal health, should they become unburied.
Will the cabinet secretary consider working with local authorities, to see whether they could recycle farm plastics along with the normal household recycling?
Roseanna Cunningham:
We would want to have conversations where necessary. A list of plastic waste service providers is available on the Zero Waste Scotland website; perhaps access to that would be helpful in those circumstances.
If all other options have been exhausted, and we would need to make sure that that was the case, and there is really no recycling service available, the waste can be sent to landfill at a licensed site or to an energy-from-waste plant.
However, that should be considered only as a last resort. We would want to have a serious conversation first, to ensure that there is not, in fact, an alternative solution.