Scotland’s plastics waste could be a gold mine

12th March 2009

Households in Scotland generate over 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year - enough to fill Hampden Park. So, from today, businesses and organisations are being invited to bid for a total of £5 million in funds from the Scottish Government’s Mixed Plastics Capital Grant Programme. 

Households in Scotland generate over 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year - enough to fill Hampden Park. So, from today, businesses and organisations are being invited to bid for a total of £5 million in funds from the Scottish Government’The funding is available to cover up to 30 per cent of the total investment required to develop new plastics recycling facilities in Scotland.

The £5 million programme is being officially launched in partnership with WRAP Scotland (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which will be dealing with applications and administering the scheme.

WRAP Scotland Director, Iain Gulland, said: “It’s not just households, but Scottish businesses, too, which are creating a large amount of plastics waste, and it is costing Scotland a lot of time, energy and resources to manage.

”However, this £5m package turns this situation into a real opportunity.

“Recycling more and more used plastic and returning it into the supply chain as new material right here in Scotland would help protect the environment and conserve valuable resources.  It could also contribute to economic recovery by presenting new business opportunities and generating jobs.”

Mr. Gulland added: “At the moment, only 15,000 tonnes of plastic used by householders is collected for recycling in Scotland, with the majority of that being sent to Asia for processing.

“This funding package will help develop plastics processing and recycling facilities, transforming Scotland’s approach to managing plastic waste.

“We are inviting bids on a competitive basis and want to see innovative and workable ideas.”

In addition to dealing with plastic bottles, the new facilities will be expected to handle mixed plastics such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, salad bags and plastic film.  Mr. Gulland said that, in the vast majority of cases, these mixed plastics currently end up being disposed of by householders, as systems are not in place to recycle them.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “What the Scottish Government wants is to drive practical, Scottish-based solutions.

“The potential spin-offs are exciting.  If we sort and recycle the plastics here, we can provide the raw materials for a new generation of manufacturing businesses and create jobs at the same time.

“Creating opportunities close to home makes sense both for the environment and the economy.  And, of course, providing a Scottish-based recycling facility, will also incentivise Scottish households to recycle more of their waste.”

Businesses and organisations are being asked to submit applications for the Grant Programme, outlining recommended locations and technology, and researched sources for feedstock and markets for the processed polymer.  Applications will close at 1.30pm on Friday, June 26.

This funding forms part of a larger package of support through the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Fund. For more information about the Zero Waste Strategy, go to

For interested applicants, please download the guidelines from, or contact the WRAP Capital Grants Team on +44 (0)129 5819900, or Mixed Plastics Capital Grant Programme. 

  • The £5m Scottish Mixed Plastics Capital Grant Programme forms part of a larger package of funding support that Scottish Government is providing through the £154 million Zero Waste Fund over the period 2007-8 to 2010-11.
  • The Grant Programme follows successful mixed plastics trials carried out last year by WRAP, which demonstrated that recycling was the best option for dealing with mixed plastics and that there were viable markets for sorted and processed recycled plastics. 
  • WRAP will assign a project monitor to oversee successful projects and provide support throughout the construction and initial operation phases.
  • Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change. 
  • Iain Gulland is the Director of WRAP Scotland and has worked in the recycling sector since 1993. Iain has previously worked for the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS) and is a member of the Scottish Liaison Group on Waste and the Scottish Government Zero Waste Think Tank. Iain has also worked for Alloa Community Enterprises Ltd, the Recycling Advisory Group for Scotland (RAGS), and at a number of local authorities in Scotland.
  • Iain is available for interviews, opinion pieces and profiles.