Zero Waste Future project in Scotland reaches financial close

19 December 2016

In a bid to reduce waste in Scotland, the Zero Waste Scotland initiative was launched in 2010 – aiming for 70% recycling and a maximum 5% of waste sent to landfill. In a bid to develop infrastructure for meeting the 2025 target for the scheme, the City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council launched the Zero Waste Future project. The initiative recently reached financial close – Mott MacDonald served as lenders’ technical advisor on the scheme.

Human waste has a tendency to accrue, resulting in potentially damaging, and costly, consequences down the line – from direct pollutants, and their effect on ecosystems and human wellbeing, to large volumes of otherwise useful material that can still provide value, current human ‘best’ practices tend to be out of kilter with sustainable living.

In a bid to challenge the current practices globally, through a much more efficient uses of natural resources, new models, such as a circular economy, are being considered. Smaller scale initiatives too are being explored, including more sustainable plastics, reduction of waste in the retail fresh food supply chain and regional recycling and waste reduction programmes, such as Zero Waste Scotland.

Zero Waste Scotland, which was developed by the Scottish Government in 2010, sets targets for Scotland, which will apply to all waste. This includes a 70% target for recycling and a maximum 5% target of waste sent to landfill by 2025. Additionally, the Scottish waste targets include a draft of measures to improve energy efficiency, educate communities and measure impacts from wasteful practices.

Zero Waste Future

One scheme aimed at supporting the transition of the Scottish economy towards one that produces less waste, is Zero Waste Future for Edinburgh and Midlothian. The joint venture, between the City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council, seeks to leverage private sector partners to develop dedicated facilities for the treatment of the food and residual waste.

Zero Waste Future project in Scotland reaches financial close

The Zero Waste Future project recently saw financial close, with the final scheme consisting of a mechanical treatment plant and energy from waste (EfW) facility. The two plants, once completed, will be able to process approximately 155,000 tonnes of waste a year, 135,000 tonnes of residual municipal solid waste and 20,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste and/or solid refuse fuel. In addition, the scheme will collect ferrous and non-ferrous metals for recycling, while the EfW will generate 14MW of electricity for the national grid.

FCC Environment UK was appointed by the joint partners to deliver the scheme, while Mott MacDonald provided lenders’ technical advisory on the scheme. The work included an assessment of the project and the development of a technical risk profile for the scheme. The engineering and consulting firm will, furthermore, oversee construction and the first 10 years of operations – including site visits to monitor the progress of works and overall facility performance. The project is set for completion by 2019.

Russell Dallas, Mott MacDonald’s project director, says, “Currently in Scotland approximately two thirds of household waste is sent to landfill which is not a sustainable disposal method, especially as the government has set a target for no more than 5% of waste being sent to landfill by 2025. The Zero Waste project will play a key role in the procurement of long-term treatment facilities for the food and residual waste collected in Edinburgh and Midlothian, thereby contributing to the national improvement programme.”


More news on


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.