Today the Scottish Government published proposals for Scotland’s long awaited circular economy bill. The legislation and policies that flow from these proposals have the potential to make a much needed difference to the way in which we make and use day to day products – from the food we eat to the buildings we work in and the equipment we use. This, in turn, could help us meet climate and nature targets.
Scottish Environment LINK welcomes these proposals. We particularly welcome the commitment to introduce ‘consumption targets’ – targets to reduce the amount of raw and harmful materials that we use. We would like to see such targets introduced in the near future. We are also pleased to see a strategic framework introduced, with a requirement on Ministers to produce and update a Circular Economy Strategy every five years. To be effective, such a strategy must set out how to meet our consumption targets, how to address problematic materials and chemicals, and obligations on different sectors. Other welcome measures include the introduction of mandatory reporting of waste and surplus stock for businesses, and several measures to improve household recycling. Despite these and other measures, there are also areas, such as public procurement, which are left vague and largely dependent on voluntary measures.
A circular economy, where materials are kept in use for as long as possible so that we waste much less and use less raw material, has been shown to be fundamental to addressing both climate change and biodiversity loss. What’s more, it offers resilience through more local supply chains and employment opportunities, for example in repair and the innovative use of byproducts and waste.
Although a popular concept with many opportunities, a transition to a more circular economy requires government intervention to bring everyone along, especially as we need to make this transition now. LINK members have been campaigning for circular economy measures for some time. We believe such measures are essential to addressing both the pollution that waste causes in the terrestrial and aquatic environments, and the unsustainable and unfair nature of our consumption patterns. Scotland currently consumes an unsustainable quantity of raw materials, with much of the impact falling on other countries. Our paper, supported by a range of organisations, sets out what we hope to see in a circular economy bill.
LINK will be responding to the public consultation on these proposals for a circular economy bill, along with a parallel consultation on additional measures in the waste targets routemap. We will publish a guide to help others to respond which will be available on our website by mid-June.