Environment / Recycling rate on the up, but still lowest in Scotland

Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

AROUND 17 per cent of household waste in Shetland was recycled last year, according to new figures.

It is significant rise on the 10.5 per cent which was recycled in 2018, but it is still the lowest rate in Scotland.

Locally a lot of waste continues to be burned in the incinerator at Gremista, which helps to provide hot water to Lerwick through the district heating scheme.

Scotland’s overall household waste recycling rate was 44.9 per cent.

The new figures, from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), showed that Shetland generated 9,648 tonnes of household waste in 2019.

Around 1,650 tonnes of waste was recycled, with the kerbside scheme introduced by Shetland Islands Council a couple of years ago helping to boost figures.

Nearly 20 per cent of Shetland’s household waste went to landfill last year.

SEPA’s figures also highlight that in Shetland the carbon impact last year was 1.28 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person. This continues to be one of the highest in Scotland.


Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said it was encouraging to see the isles’ household recycling rate on the rise.

“This is very welcome news, and highlights all the excellent work done by the Shetland public to improve Shetland’s recycling statistics,” he said.

“It’s important to keep monitoring and maintaining the recycling effort, and I thank the Shetland public for all their efforts and playing their part.”

Nationally less than one million tonnes of household waste was sent to landfill for the first time, a reduction of 26 per cent.

Outside of recycling of the waste diverted from landfill 78 per cent was managed through incineration.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.