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Scotland's journey towards a circular economy

12 Apr 23 3 minute read

We need to rapidly make the transition to a Circular Economy to tackle the climate crisis.

Scotland already has targets and commitments in place, but we must take our circular ambitions even further. This is why the Circular Economy Bill and Delivering Scotland’s Circular Economy: A Route Map to 2025 and Beyond consultations are pivotal moments for our sustainable future.

The 2022 consultations engaged with the public and stakeholders, giving people in Scotland the opportunity to have their say on how we embrace a circular economy.

Why this matters

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.

The message is clear - we need to talk about consumption and rethink our systems so that we can start to consume differently. The solution lies in moving from a linear economy to a circular one, where we design products to last and encourage reuse, repair, and recycling to reduce demand for raw materials.

Around four-fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we manufacture, use, and throw away.

A circular economy will allow us to create new markets, encourage innovation and will result in greener job opportunities. It’s key to not only achieving our targets for net zero and nature, but to a more prosperous economy and fairer society. 

What is the Circular Economy Bill?

The forthcoming Circular Economy Bill will give Scotland the powers and solutions to help us to consume differently, use resources efficiently and, crucially, boost our economy. Creating a way of living that’s more sustainable and that benefits businesses and citizens alike.

It will provide the legislative framework required to support Scotland’s transition to a zero waste and circular economy, significantly increase reuse and recycling rates, and modernise and improve waste and recycling services.

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What is the Route Map to 2025 and beyond?

The Route Map sets out how the Scottish Government intends to deliver our system-wide, comprehensive vision for Scotland’s Circular Economy.

It contains non-legislative proposals on how we produce, consume, and manage Scotland’s resources from reducing food waste and improving recycling to embedding circular construction practices and promoting responsible production, consumption and re-use.

Outlining the tangible actions, the Scottish Government and others must take to accelerate progress, the Route Map details the tools that will be put in place to enable everyone to play their part.

The measures set out in this consultation primarily focus on the action we can take now to accelerate progress towards our existing 2025 targets. However, they also lay the foundations for the transformational change we will need to see across our whole economy and society in the years ahead.

Next steps

Feedback from the Consultation period will be used to develop and confirm interventions and actions to be taken forward in the final Route Map and to finalise legislative proposals in the Circular Economy Bill.

The Scottish Government is undertaking an analysis of consultation responses to understand the full range of views on proposals and identify any additional actions that have not been considered in this consultation.

The cumulative environmental effects from the Route Map will likely be significant, and a Strategic Environmental Assessment is, therefore, likely to be required. Further evidence regarding the environmental impact of proposals would be welcomed, which will help inform the strategic environmental assessment process for the Route Map, in line with legislative requirements.

Find out more about the Bill on the Zero Waste Scotland website here and the Scottish Government website here