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Scotland's Circular Economy - The Future

Guest Blog written by Bella Howard-Vyse for The Refillery UK

 

Scotland’s Circular Economy Bill Consultations

Following the recent closure of Scotland’s Circular Economy Bill consultations, there may be questions about what this is and what it means. At the end of May the Scottish Government sought public opinion on its proposals for legislation to develop a circular economy in Scotland. Now that the consultation period has ended, the government will analyse these responses and factor them into their legislation and policy-making process for creating and delivering Scotland’s circular economy.

Following the recent closure of Scotland’s Circular Economy Bill consultations, there may be questions about what this is and what it means. At the end of May the Scottish Government sought public opinion on its proposals for legislation to develop a circular economy in Scotland. Now that the consultation period has ended, the government will analyse these responses and factor them into their legislation and policy-making process for creating and delivering Scotland’s circular economy.

What is a Circular Economy?

A circular economy is designed to create and maintain an economy that is more compatible with sustainability and tackling the climate crisis. Scotland currently has a linear economy. This is one in which resources are extracted from the earth, generated into products and then disposed of.

To transition to a circular economy would be to reduce consumption and the demand for raw materials, to reuse and repair products by manufacturing materials that are designed to last, and to recycle waste and energy to maximise their value. It establishes a hierarchy of waste whereby the aim is to keep materials as high up this hierarchical ladder as possible, in the ‘optimal use’ realm.

 Why a Circular Economy?

In 2022 there is no hiding or denying the climate crisis. Record-breaking temperatures took hold this summer with Scotland reaching 34.8°C and England reaching 40.2°C, Scotland’s 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997 and the average sea level around the UK has increased by ~4mm a year since the beginning of the 20th century. From a consumption perspective, products and materials we manufacture, use and discard make up four fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint and, on an individual level, the average Scot consumes 18.4 tonnes of materials each year. These statistics speak for themselves.

A circular economy could revolutionise the way we live and the way our planet survives. It prioritises the environment by reducing waste and emissions whilst also providing local employment opportunities.

The proposals for a new Circular Economy Bill are fourfold: Strategic Interventions; Reduce and Reuse; Recycle; Littering and Improving Enforcement. These are the predominant areas in which the Scottish Government sought public opinion in their consultations ahead of their analysis in the autumn.

Strategic Interventions

There are several dimensions to the government’s strategic interventions, including the 10-year National Strategy for Economic Transformation that aims to help Scotland maximise its economic potential in a prosperous societal context, the draft National Planning Framework 4 that awaits approval by Scottish Ministers and aims to ensure effective use of Scotland’s assets and infrastructure to encourage emission reduction, and the partnership with Social Investment Scotland to deliver the £5m Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund that offers support for businesses and communities to make effective and more sustainable changes. Among the proposals for the new circular economy are the enforcement of statutory targets to develop a ‘monitoring framework’. This would provide a way of monitoring the consumption levels and wider measures of circularity in Scotland, whilst also taking into account the wider social, economic and environmental impacts of this. By placing the circular economy objectives within these wider strategic frameworks, the government sets them at the forefront of public and political discussion.

 

Reduce and Reuse

Whilst seeking to improve and update the Circular Economy Bill, the Scottish Government supports a number of ongoing projects and strategies that address the environmental issues we are facing. This includes the Sustainable Products Initiative that strives to increase the sustainability of products placed on the market, namely those that are reusable, repairable and recyclable, and the provisions proposed by the European Commission such as banning the destruction of unsold goods, encouraging companies to recycle, reuse or donate rather than incinerate or landfill their leftover products. The reduce and reuse area of the Circular Economy Bill proposes changes such as environmental charging for single-use items that can easily be replaced with sustainable alternatives e.g. plastic cups (which create 4,000 tonnes of waste in Scotland each year), and mandatory public reporting of excess stock and waste.

 

Recycle

Scotland already invests in recycling and launched a fund designed to support local authorities in improving and expanding recycling infrastructure. It also plans to implement a Deposit Return Scheme by August next year that provides return points and pick-ups for plastic, metal and glass containers, aiming to boost recycling rates and establish a narrative whereby reusing and recycling materials is at the forefront of the community. By striving towards a circular economy, Scotland proposes to strengthen household recycling collection services, provide local authorities with recycling targets, incentivise waste reduction and recycling within households and introduce business recycling collection zoning.

 

Littering and Improving Enforcement

In addition to the current measures aimed to reduce litter, such as civil penalties to enforce fly tipping offences (under consultation) and the Marine Litter Strategy Action Plan to prevent marine plastic pollution, the Circular Economy Bill proposes new penalties for littering from vehicles and the seizure of vehicles linked to waste crime. These measures seek to tackle unnecessary and inexcusable behaviours that have a detrimental impact on the environment.

 

The purpose of this consultation is to prioritise the environment and seek opinions on the government’s quest to develop a circular economy in Scotland. By working closely with the responses from the Route Map consultation, they aim to gather public thoughts, feedback and advice on how best to inform their policy and assess the impact of the proposals associated with the revised Circular Economy Bill. This marks the beginning of a government committed to addressing the climate crisis and accepting responsibility for the environmental consequences the country has been forced to endure thus far. By recognising the issues at hand and developing ways to confront them, they work towards building a better future.

 

Whilst we wait for the consultations to be assessed and for the new bill to take shape, you can start contributing to a circular economy yourself. Here at the Refillery we have a circular system. Our entire ethos is centered around reducing waste and reusing materials. We offer products from reusable cups to plastic-free deodorant and encourage people to bring their own jars and containers to fill up with oils, vinegar, nuts, seeds, pasta, cereals, snacks, detergents and shampoo etc. completely plastic free. We have also launched a deposit return scheme for our coffee cups so come and check it out!

Join us in becoming part of the solution, not the problem!

 

 

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