GLASGOW City Council has the highest carbon impact generated by household waste of any local authority in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Dumfries and Galloway has the highest carbon impact per person of any other Scottish local authority.

The SEPA figures are from 2019, pre-pandemic, as the updated figures for during the Covid crisis are not due to be released until December this year.

As Glasgow is set to host the COP26 global climate talks in a matter of weeks, The National has taken a look at publicly available data to see which Scottish council’s have the highest carbon impact when it comes to household waste.

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Carbon is a shorthand term for the six greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, including carbon dioxide and methane.

The climate change impact of these is measured using a unit called carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).

Scottish council’s measure this unit in tonnes (TCO2e), and break the figures down to council-wide and the carbon impact per person.

Food waste and textiles such as clothing are the most carbon-intensive items to dispose of.

In 2019, Scotland produced 5,664,989.51 TCO2e in total from household waste alone.

Glasgow City Council had the highest carbon impact of all 32 local authorities, with 744,090 TCO2e.

In comparison, Edinburgh had the second highest output on the list with 471,188 TCO2e, followed by Fife (387,425 TCO2e), North Lanarkshire (361,416 TCO2e) and South Lanarkshire (337,048 TCO2e).

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “Reducing the amount of waste produced by the city is absolutely essential if we are to limit the carbon impact of things we throw away.

“Therefore the focus of our new resources and recycling strategy is to change how we view the materials we consume and encourage far greater re-use of the items that may otherwise be seen as rubbish to be dumped.”

Conversely, those with the lowest carbon impact tended to be island communities such as the Shetland Islands (29,253 TCO2e) and Na h-Eileanan Siar (36,485 TCO2e).

Clackmannanshire (53,323 TCO2e) and Inverclyde (58,006 TCO2e) had the lowest carbon impact of mainland local authorities.

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When the data is broken down into TCO2e impact per person in each local authority, a different picture emerges.

Dumfries and Galloway tops the list with 1.41 TCO2e per person, much higher than the Scotland wide average of 1.04 TCO2e per person.

When The National approached Dumfries and Galloway council for comment on why this was so high, a spokesperson said, “The figures quoted are from two years ago” and directed us to a page on the council’s website setting out recycling services.

The council spent £30 million ending their old recycling contract and establishing a new system, which came into force in November 2020.

The National:

Glasgow City Council had the highest carbon impact through household waste

Argyll and Bute (1.37 TCO2e per person) followed next on the list of individual impact, followed by Na h-Eileanan Siar (1.37 TCO2e per person) and the Shetland Islands (1.28 TCO2e per person), who both have significantly smaller population sizes.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The carbon impact of waste is too high right across Scotland.

“The best way to reduce this is to stop materials becoming waste in the first place – councils need to do more to help people and businesses to repair and reuse products locally.

“We need to see more repair shops and tool libraries on our high streets so this is as easy as possible for everyone.”

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Adrian Bond, Recycling Manager for Zero Waste Scotland, said: “The upcoming waste statistics will no doubt reflect the unique conditions of 2020, with more people staying at home and the temporary closure of recycling centres.

“With COP26 mere weeks away, we must urgently slow our overconsumption of goods and keep existing materials in circulation through reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The latest data shows that the whole-life carbon impacts of Scotland’s household waste are at their lowest since records began.

“To accelerate progress, we will soon be making our first investments from the £70m Recycling Improvement Fund, one of the largest single investments in recycling in Scotland.”

Carbon impact per Scottish local authority in tonnes

(Highest to lowest)

The National:

Source: SEPA

Carbon impact per person by each Scottish local authority in tonnes

(Highest to lowest)

The National:

Source: SEPA