Circular Economy Bill: photo of concentric metal circles

Circular Economy Bill: Continuing Scotland’s sustainable journey

16 Jun 23 4 minute read

The much-anticipated Circular Economy Bill has been laid in Parliament and is an exciting, and landmark, next step in Scotland's journey towards a fairer and more sustainable economy.

Iain Gulland, CEO, Zero Waste Scotland


Iain Gulland

"If we are serious about tackling the climate and nature crises we need need to curb our overconsumption habits and become smarter as to how we use materials and products throughout their life." - Iain reflects on opportunities for Scotland's sustainable future as the Circular Economy Bill is laid in Parliament.

The laying of the Scottish Government's Circular Economy Bill - which establishes powers and the legislative framework we need to support Scotland’s transition to a zero waste and circular economy - comes at a time of challenges for all of us. Challenges that affect our day-to-day, as well as future generations.

The ongoing energy and cost-of-living crisis, putting pressure on our weekly shops and monthly bills. The ongoing recovery from the global pandemic providing uncertainty for so many. And, arguably, the most pressing issue of our lifetime, the climate crisis. During times of great struggle, it can be difficult to feel motivated to change. But we need real solutions that will yield real results. And we need them urgently.

Evidence estimates around four-fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we manufacture, use, and throw away. Material consumption and waste are the primary drivers of nearly every environmental problem we currently face, from water scarcity to habitat and species loss.

Solar Panels

We must rethink our systems, and habits, so that we consume differently

Transitioning to a circular economy can help to deliver this. It's something we need to embed in all aspects of the economy. Circular systems and business models can save costs and generate higher-value revenue streams.

Central to a transition to a circular economy is recognising that being circular is not just about having green credentials. It’s something that must be embedded in all aspects of our economy. From citizen to community, to business, to government.

A circular economy keeps valuable materials flowing through our economy, driving greater resource productivity and decreasing costs for businesses, the public sector and households. In it, we design products to last and encourage reuse, repair, and recycling to reduce demand for raw materials. And, in return, we can create new markets, encourage and empower innovation, and see greener job opportunities emerge.

For business, circular systems and business models can save costs and generate higher-value revenue streams forming these new markets and helping us rethink supply systems.

But it’s not enough to rely on one type of business or sector to innovate and solve the problem of over-consumption.

We need organisations of all sizes, private and public sector, to rethink how they operate. Circularity brings credibility for purpose-driven investment that is the basis for Scotland to support an excellent quality of life and vibrant economy, while tackling climate change and nature loss.

For citizens, a circular economy can reduce material inputs, resulting in cost savings and more resilient supply chains – in other words, saving money across the board. It can also strengthen communities and local economic benefit, with businesses like tool libraries or sharing cafes becoming the norm.

Circular image looking out to sea

The Circular Economy Bill

The Circular Economy Bill presents us with the opportunity to begin putting vital powers in place that will enable us to consume differently, use resources efficiently and, crucially, transform our economy - creating new opportunities for business and citizens.

Our economy, environment, and social well-being are intrinsically linked - but in our current linear economy it can feel impossible to thrive. If we want to dramatically improve the quality of our lives, the lives of generations to come, and the overall well-being of the planet we all love, then we must embrace the circular economy.

And what better time than now? With a Circular Economy Bill emboldening our efforts, this is a pivotal moment for Scotland to lead the way in showing that a greener, more circular, future is possible if we all work together.

Find more information on the Circular Economy Bill on the Zero Waste Scotland website here and the Scottish Government website here.