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We need to talk about consumption - Recording

On 5 October 2021, ahead of COP26, Zero Waste Scotland brought together some of the world's greatest minds and experts to explore a vital topic missing in the climate crisis discussion - consumption.

Throughout the one-day virtual conference, our panelists shared some thought-provoking conversations and insights into some of the great work already happening around the globe to tackle climate change and inspired others – citizens, business leaders, decision makers – to play their part in creating a circular economy.

View the highlights of the day in our video below:

To view our full conference, view our recordings of each session topic below:

Session one: Eye on the prize. What does a circular economy mean for Scotland?

The circular economy is no longer a concept, it is a demonstrable solution to climate change. And it’s happening right here on the ground in Scotland and internationally. This session discussed why it’s important, going beyond the philosophical and theoretical to how it can (and does) improve the way we live, learn and work.

Hosted by: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland


  • Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity;
  • Jocelyn Blériot, Executive Lead - Institutions, Governments and Cities, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Session two: How do we bridge the overconsumption and carbon gap?

Circularity Gap Reports are a valuable means of setting national baselines and measuring the potential improvements required to "close the circularity gap". Transformation of economies from linear to circular requires political, behavioural and economic change.
This panel session included conversations with nations that have conducted a circularity gap analysis including their learnings as they’ve met and overcome challenges.

Hosted by: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland


  • Matthew Fraser, Lead, Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative, Circle Economy;
  • Etienne Angers, Industrial Development Officer, Recyc Quebec;
  • Mishal Al Riymay, Section Head Scientific & Technical Programs at Oman Environmental Services Holding Co. SAOC - be'ah.

Session three: Reimagine circular cities and regions. What is happening in Scotland and around the world?

This panel session explored what cities need to implement circularity and what strategic governance questions need to be asked.

Hosted by: Jill Farrell, Customer Engagement & Communications Director, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Stuart Patrick, CEO, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce;
  • Alison Henderson, CEO, Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce and Perth Chamber of Commerce;
  • Carrol Buxton, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Pre-recorded Presentation:

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce was unable to attend our event on the day. Russell provided a pre-recorded update on realising the circular economy opportunity in Aberdeen and the Grampians.

Session four: We need to talk about consumption Is it a habit we can break?

This session challenged our relationship with consumption. Bringing provocative thinking that inspired us to change our behaviour, reinvent our business models, and implement radical policy.

Hosted by: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland

Speaker: Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity.

Session five: Rethink our food system to reduce food waste. Can it be done?

Overconsumption and waste within the food system needs to be seriously addressed by the Government and agencies, as well as food manufacturers and retailers. Around half of all food waste in Scotland comes from householders.

This session explored the need to understand what is behind the behaviours of Scottish householders when it comes to wasting food at home and how we drive change.

Hosted by: Helen Wollaston, Non-Executive Director, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Professor Iain Black, Professor of Sustainable Consumption, University of Stirling;
  • Andrew Griffiths, Head of Value Chain Sustainability, Nestlé;
  • Dr Richard Swannell, International Director, WRAP;
  • Nadiya Catel-Arutyunova, Sustainability Policy Adviser, British Retail Consortium.

Session six: Reinventing the global supply chain and business models. Where does it begin?

The climate crisis is also a leadership crisis. Our panelists discussed how organisations can evolve complex business models, with global supply chains to be more sustainable and optimally, become more circular. Mounting consumer pressure and increasing cost of raw materials, higher costs of European trade and a warming planet. It’s a perfect storm.

Hosted by: Louise Smith, People and Transformation Director, Zero Waste Scotland

  • Robert Graham, Managing Director, Graham's The Family Dairy;
  • Jo Chidley, Founder Beauty Kitchen;
  • Dr Geoff Mackey, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director, BASF;
  • Professor Eleanor Shaw, Associate Principal, University of Strathclyde.

Session seven: Resources, not waste. How can we turn waste into valuable resources?

Our resources are finite. A circular economy approach helps to close the circle and keep materials in circulation - making things last. This session explored how we innovate and invest for a waste management sector fit for the future.

Hosted by: Louise McGregor, Head of Customer Service and Support, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Francesco Lembo, Managing Director, ACR+;
  • Omer Kutluoglu, Co-Founder and Director, Yes Recycling;
  • Ceris Turner-Bailes, Chief Executive Officer, WasteAid; 
  • Jack McQuibban, Cities and Communities Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe.

Event pre-record: Fast Fashion

This session was pre-recorded before the event. The panel discussion discussed the challenges of the fast fashion industry and what can be done to shift consumer behaviour.

Hosted by: Anna Graham, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Michael Cusack, Head of Sustainability, ACS Clothing;
  • Dr Katherine Duffy, Senior Marketing Lecturer, University of Glasgow;
  • Mairi Lowe founding member and Director Sustainability Fashion Scotland.
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