Why Scotland chose to delay its controversial landfill ban

What a difference seven days make. On 12 September, Clackmannanshire Council proudly announced a “short-term solution” had been put in place to meet the Scottish government’s ban on sending biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) to landfill. But instead of a pat on the back, there was a kick in the teeth when local papers reported that the 8,000 tonnes of waste will be baled up and exported to an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in Sweden. A week later, on 19 September, came the sucker punch: the environment secretary announced a four-year extension to enforcement of the ban.

The decision – taken “very reluctantly” by Roseanna Cunningham – has been widely welcomed. The handful of councils still unprepared for the ban will certainly sleep easier, as will those who had longer-term solutions but wouldn’t meet the 1 January 2021 deadline. The “short extension for some avoids creating bigger environmental problems than the ban solves”, as well as “huge extra costs”, said councillor Steven Heddle, environment spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

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