Waste and Recycling Advice


We have a target to reduce our waste going to landfill by 100% by 2020 and to recycle or compost 90% of that waste by 2020. We still have a way to go, but in the meantime our building users can help us reduce waste and make use of our comprehensive recycling facilities by following these simple steps.

Step 1: Reduce


It is far better to reduce waste produced in the first place. This saves transport and processing costs and emissions. Consider the following;

  • Do you really need the item? Does anyone else in the office or team already have one?
  • Can you buy a less harmful product? i.e. with more recycled content
  • Ask for documents to be supplied by email rather than in hard copy
  • Think twice before printing material that can be read on-line 
  • Photocopy and print double sided  
  • Make full use of existing stationery items before ordering new ones
  • Eat at the Employee Restaurant using the plates and cutlery rather than the disposable takeaway ones
  • Bring lunch to work in Tupperware rather than using plastic sandwich bags

Step 2: Reuse

Many items are disposed of before they are at the end of their life. Consider the following before throwing it away;

  • Use the un-printed side of paper for draft documents and notes
  • Use glasses or mugs rather than plastic cups
  • Use your own reusable cup for take away coffees and teas. You can even earn extra loyalty point when bringing your own cup
  • Reuse envelopes or use returnable envelopes

Step 3: Recycle

We have a comprehensive recycling system at the Scottish Parliament. Every effort to recycle items should be made before disposing in the non-recyclables bin.

Paper – blue label

  • Any colour of paper or mainly paper product
  • Staples do not need to be removed from paper
  • Windows do not need to be removed from envelopes
  • Wire or spiral bindings do not need to be removed from note pads

Cardboard – blue label

Any type of cardboard or mainly cardboard product

  • Coffee cup sleeves can go in here, but not compostable coffee cups

Plastic bottles – red label

  • Any type of plastic bottle including lid
  • No other grade plastic other than plastic bottles should go in here, other plastics will be incinerated as the best environment option for them in the non- recyclables bin
  • Labels do not need to be removed from glass jars or plastic bottles

Glass – green label

  • Any colour or type of glass
  • Labels do not need to be removed from glass jars or plastic bottles

Cans – grey label

  • Cans and tins, ideally with no food in, but do not need to be thoroughly clean

Food and Compostable packaging

  • Any food, cooked or uncooked
  • Food should be taken out of containers, unless the container is compostable
  • Compostable packaging including Scottish Parliament take away coffee cups, hot food containers, soup containers, salad containers and take away cutlery
  • Some other takeaway food containers are compostable (not Starbucks at the moment), it will state this on the packaging or have a symbol on it.
  • No plastic bottles with liquid in, these should go in the plastics recycling
  • Tissues and napkins are welcome in this bin

Non Recyclables – black label

  • Only plastics and items which can’t be recycled should go in here
  • No batteries or electronics (it is illegal to dispose of them in this bin)
  • This waste will be sent to be incinerated

There are also special disposal routes for special items such as batteries and electronic equipment.


Introducing single use coffee cup charging

Over the last few years the issues associated with society’s increasingly throw away culture have been brought to the fore of public consciousness. The humble cardboard coffee cup has become synonymous with the problems of single use - a disposable product that’s fundamentally unnecessary and yet everywhere!

Coffee cups at the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament has long looked to reduce the impact of their resource use and has seen great success in recent years in becoming more resource efficient, recycling as much as possible and choosing sustainable options but there is always more to do. Currently around 60,000 disposable coffee cups are used inside the Scottish Parliament every year, that’s over 160 every day!

When it comes to resource use, reduction is always the number one priority; even the most sustainable single use coffee cup in the world would be more sustainable if it wasn’t made in the first place! For that reason, the Scottish Parliament are introducing a 25p charge for use of a single-use coffee cup from their on-site cafes. This charge is being brought in with one goal – reducing the amount of takeaway coffee cups used at the Scottish Parliament and therefore the impact associated with them.

Why a charge?

When it comes to reducing single-use, applying a charge is one of the best ways to implement a meaningful change. Since Scotland introduced charging for carrier bags in 2014, there has been over an 85% reduction in plastic bag use. Indeed, the Scottish government has recently proposed plans to introduce charges for disposable coffee cups across the whole of Scotland, so this just puts the Scottish Parliament ahead of the curve.

Why a 25p charge?

Introducing the charge at the right level is important, if the charge is too low then its impact may be minimal and short-lived as people become used to paying the extra amount, and if too high it could negatively impact hot drink sales to the detriment of the business selling them. The charge is something being implemented to discourage the use of single-use items, not financially punish people or businesses.

What about other single-use items

Of course, there are many other single-use items used throughout Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, coffee cups are just the tip of the iceberg. In the future, similar charges could be brought in for any number of single-use products. Introducing the charge on coffee cups addresses one of the most commonly used products but also reinforces to people that single-use should be avoided where possible across a whole range of products.

How can I avoid the charge?

Its really easy to avoid the charge – don’t use a single-use cup! You could bring your own re-usable cup with you if you need to take it away or even treat yourself to a nice relaxing cup of coffee at the café itself!



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