What happens to your rubbish
The Highland Council currently collects and disposes of around 125,000 tonnes of waste produced by households and business waste customers each year. At present, 35% of this material is recycled. Until recently the remainder of the non-recyclable waste was sent to landfill for disposal.
When biodegradable waste is landfilled it creates a powerful greenhouse gas, called Methane, which is 25 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide. The waste hierarchy gives preference - after reusing and then recycling - to recovering value from mixed waste such as energy recovery, with disposal in landfill being the least preferable option.
New arrangements for the disposal of mixed (black bag) waste from households and businesses are underway. Waste from some areas of Highland will be delivered to the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Dunbar, East Lothian. Viridor will process and treat the waste, using it to generate electricity which is exported onto the National Grid.
Since January 2023, mixed waste (black bags) from households and businesses in Skye and Lochalsh, and Badenoch and Strathspey has been diverted from landfill to the Viridor plant as part of the initial phase of the transition from landfill disposal.
The next scheduled phase will see mixed waste from Inverness-shire and Nairn-shire delivered to the facility from April 2023.
Mixed (black bag) waste from Ross and Cromarty will be diverted from landfill to the Energy Recovery Facility from October 2023. The remainder of Highland’s mixed (black bag) waste will be transitioned to the Energy Recovery Facility in phases until 2025.
To find out more about the energy recovery process, see this video.