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Household waste statistics released for 2022

Date published: 17 October 2023

Environmental data

Scotland generates lowest amount of household waste since 2011

Scottish household waste statistics 2022  - summary

This is a Policy statement and relates to the Official Statistics Publication for Scotland - Household waste summary (Jan-Dec 2022), waste landfilled in Scotland – 2022, and waste incinerated in Scotland – 2022 statistics published at 9.30am on Tuesday 17 October 2023 and available on SEPA's website. 

  • Lowest amount of Scottish household waste generated since 2011 
  • Scotland generated 2.33 million tonnes of household waste in 2022, down 148,000 tonnes (6.0%) from 2021 
  • Overall household recycling rate was 43.3%, up slightly from 2021  
  • 0.43 tonnes of waste generated per person in 2022 - 0.19 tonnes recycled, 0.11 tonnes landfilled and 0.14 tonnes diverted through other means 
  • Carbon impact of Scotland’s waste was 5.5 million tonnes of CO2e or 1.02 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per person. This is down 357,000 TCO2e from 2021 and 1.22 million TCO2e from 2011  

Waste from all sources landfilled and incinerated in Scotland 2022 - summary

  • Waste from all sources landfilled in Scotland in 2022 decreased 21.0% largely due to fewer soils and sorting residues being landfilled    
  • Waste from all sources incinerated in Scotland in 2022 increased 4.9%, largely due to an increase in sorting residues

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) statisticians have published Official Statistics today (17 October 2023) which provide detail of Household Waste collected across all Local Authorities during 2022, as well as waste landfilled and incinerated in Scotland in 2022.  

The figures show that Scotland generated the lowest amount of household waste since 2011 and suggests the figures have recovered after the anomalous years of 2020 and 2021 - which were impacted by restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. 

Scottish Household Waste Statistic 2022  

Scottish households generated the equivalent of 0.43 tonnes of waste per person in 2022, with 0.19 tonnes recycled, 0.11 tonnes sent to landfill and 0.14 tonnes diverted through other means, such as incineration.  

The total amount of household waste generated was 2.33 million tonnes, a decrease of 148,000 tonnes (6.0%) from 2021. Of this, 43.3% was recycled, a 0.3 percentage point increase from 2021. The recycling figure includes recycling and reuse (657,000 tonnes) and composting (355,000 tonnes). 

View Household Waste Statistics

Carbon impact of Scottish households   

The Scottish carbon metric measures the whole-life impact of resources. A measure of national performance, the metric takes a holistic view, from resource extraction and manufacturing emissions, through to waste management emissions. This is measured in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).   

The carbon impact of Scottish household waste generated and managed in 2022 was 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which equates to 1.02 tonnes of CO2e per person. This was a decrease of 6.1% (357,000 tonnes CO2e) from 2021. 

Waste sent to landfill continues to decrease  

Scottish household waste landfilled in 2022 was 585,000 tonnes, a decrease of 78,000 tonnes (11.7%) from 2021. This continues the long-term downward trend, with a reduction of 868,000 tonnes (59.7%) of household waste landfilled since 2011. 

In 2022, Scotland landfilled 25.1% of the waste generated, down 30.7 percentage points from 2011 when the figure was 55.8%. This comparison allows for the variation in the amount of waste generated. 

 Waste recycled and diverted from landfill  

The 2022 recycling rate was 43.3%, up 0.3 percentage points from 2021 and an increase of 3.8 percentage points from the 39.6% achieved in 2011.

The majority was recycled or reused (657,000 tonnes, 65%), with composting contributing the remaining 355,000 (35%).  

The amount of household waste managed by other diversion from landfill was 736,000 tonnes, a decrease of 15,000 tonnes (1.9%) from 2021. Most was managed by incineration (604,000 tonnes, 82.0%).   
What Scotland is recycling – plastic and textiles up, glass and construction & soils down 

The largest material category recycled or reused in 2022 was paper and cardboard (181,000 tonnes, 27.6%). There was a decrease of 2.7% for these materials recycled or reused between 2021 and 2022, which fits with the longer-term downward trend for paper and cardboard, which is down 59,000 tonnes (24.6%) from 2011. 

Of the seven material categories that comprised the highest amount of waste recycled or reused, plastic wastes showed the largest increase (up 3,000 tonnes, 4.2%) followed by textiles (an increase of 2,000 tonnes, 19.0%).   

The largest reductions were glass (a decrease of 10,000 tonnes, 8.1%) followed by construction and soils (a decrease of 9,000 tonnes, 8.6%). 

Waste from all sources landfilled and incinerated in Scotland 2022

Also published today were statistics providing the details of waste landfilled and incinerated in Scotland for calendar year 2022. The corresponding data set for all waste generated and recycled in Scotland during 2022 will be published in March 2024. 

Total waste landfilled in Scotland 

The total quantity of waste landfilled in Scotland in 2022 was 2.4 million tonnes, a decrease of 631,000 tonnes (21.0%) from 2021. This continues a long-term trend, with a reduction of 4.7 million tonnes (66.4%) since 2005, and is the lowest annual amount on record of waste landfilled since then. 

Most of the decrease was due to a reduction in sorting residues (down 311,000 tonnes or 32.2%) and soils (down 274,000 tonnes or 29.5%). The reduction follows an increase in the landfilling of these wastes in 2021, due to a resumption of economic activity in Scotland following extended lockdowns and other restrictions due to Covid-19. 

The amount of biodegradable municipal disposed to landfill in 2022 was 707,000 tonnes, a decrease of 174,000 tonnes (19.8%) from 2021 and a reduction of 1.3 million tonnes (65.3%) since 2005.  

View all waste landfilled

Waste incinerated in Scotland   

The total quantity of waste incinerated in Scotland in 2022 was 1.42 million tonnes, an increase of 67,000 tonnes (4.9%) from 2021. Sorting residues made up over a third (34.7%) of this (492,000 tonnes, up 42,000 tonnes – 9.4%).   

Over one third (36.4%) of waste incinerated was incinerated by recovery.  This follows the accreditation of an additional two municipal waste incineration facilities to the R1 efficiency standard in 2022, bringing the total number of accredited facilities in Scotland to three. 

View All Waste Incinerated

David Harley, Interim Chief Officer, Circular Economy

“Scotland is ambitious for a more circular economy where fewer resources are disposed of and much more are re-used and recycled, creating a range of environmental, economic and societal benefits. We’ve all got a role to play, from the making choices about the resources we use, to how we re-use and recycle – and what we dispose of. At SEPA we’re working closely with Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish councils to help improve recyclate quality and support Scottish waste infrastructure - these statistics are an important measure of Scotland’s progress towards a circular economy."

Notes to editors

  • The definition of household waste and clarification of what counts and what does not count towards the recycling rate is available in the Zero Waste Plan – guidance for local authorities, published in March 2011.
  • Official statistics are produced by SEPA’s statisticians in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.   
  • Data on waste are collected to monitor policy effectiveness, and to support policy development, particularly commitments in the Scottish Government's Making Things Last - A Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland. Further details on the methodology used to produce the figures are provided in the accompanying Household Waste Data Quality Reports.
  • The figures are accurate at the time of publication, however data may be updated if further revisions are necessary. Normally these revisions will be published concurrent with the next official release.