Incinerating waste

February 2023

Second waste incineration report published

From the Scottish Government news site

Reducing emissions from waste

Stopping plastics from being incinerated is one of the key recommendations of an independent review of decarbonising the treatment of residual waste.

The report follows last year’s independent review of the role of incineration in Scotland, which recommended placing a cap on future capacity and led to Ministers putting restrictions on the development of further incinerators.

Report author Dr Colin Church has made several new recommendations to reduce the carbon impact of residual (or ‘black bag’) waste treatment infrastructure, including stopping plastic from being incinerated in Scotland.  In addition, he has recommended:

  • taking forward policies to reduce plastic production and use
  • promoting source segregation of all plastics, and implementing advanced sorting to remove plastics from black bag waste
  • using the heat from incinerators where possible, for example for homes and businesses

Dr Church said:

“Incineration remains a more climate-friendly method of managing residual waste than traditional landfill, and more practical than any other currently available approach.  However, without further action, this advantage will erode over a relatively short time.  That is why my second report sets out a series of recommendations to improve the carbon impact of residual waste treatment, of which the most urgent and potentially most impactful is the cessation this decade of the incineration of plastic.”

Read the report

Summary by Let'


June 2022           SG response to first report

SG response to waste incineration review

The Scottish Government has published its response to the review of waste incineration requirement and provision it commissioned last year from Dr Colin Church.  Dr Church's report was published in May (see below).

Extracts from an email sent on behalf of Dr Colin Church, independent Chair of the Review of Incineration.

The Scottish Government has now published its initial response to the Review’s recommendations. You can find this here: Independent review of the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy: Scottish Government response - (

As I noted in my report and during the stakeholder engagement session following its publication, the Review has commissioned further work to consider the options for decarbonising the residual waste management sector in Scotland. This is expected to complete by the end of 2022 or start of 2023.

Evidence submitted by stakeholders to the Call for Evidence regarding decarbonisation will be considered as a part of this work. The Review is currently planning to launch a further round of stakeholder engagement later this summer, in which we will be seeking responses to specific questions and open to any further representations stakeholders wish to make.

We will be in contact with further details regarding this in the coming weeks.

SG response  PDF download


May 2022         Dr Church's first report

Waste incineration review published

Burning waste to produce energy can be considered under the two aspects of waste treatment and energy generation.  From the starting point of proposals by Highland Council to build a 'Materials Treatment Facility' in Inverness and to consider the possibility of subsequently building an incinerator, we have drawn attention to some of the issues around waste incineration.

These include concerns about the effect of incineration on the achievement of Scotland's Net Zero carbon emissions targets, which led the Scottish Government to commission a review into 'the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy in Scotland', just published (10 May 2022); and opposition to incineration from the campaigning group United Kingdom Without INcineration (UKWIN), Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Highlands and Islands Green Party.

We also link to a disturbing video about incinerating recycling from The Guardian.

Our Energy from Waste - Incineration  page
(includes TBI's submission to the call for evidence)

'Stop, Sort, Burn, Bury' - the Report  by Dr Colin Church

Supporting documents

Responses to Call for Evidence

Video on incinerating recycling  from The Guardian



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