Scottish public want a less wasteful economy

09 Jun 2020

A Scottish Environment LINK survey published today shows the public want a less wasteful economy with lighter demands on the planet (1,2). These findings come at a critical time, with Governments now considering how best to stimulate the economy as part of the recovery from coronavirus (3).

The survey showed that respondents would support moves by the Scottish Government that reduce our use of valuable raw materials. People also expressed frustration with the way that products are made and how it is often impracticable to get things repaired.
There was widespread support for businesses to become more responsible for the environmental impact of their products, with clear support for supermarkets to report on their own waste levels and waste in their supply chains.

The survey of 1,027 people in Scotland, conducted by Survation, found
• 87% agreed with the statement that ‘In Scotland we should use raw materials more wisely and waste less’.
• 78% agreed with the statement that ‘The Government should introduce a target and a plan on how to reduce the amount of raw materials used’.
• 91% agreed with the statement ‘When possible, products should be made so that they are easy to repair and their components can be re-used’
• 90% agreed with the statement that ‘Producers and retailers have a responsibility for the environmental impact of their products’
• 83% agreed that Supermarkets should report publicly on their waste and 77% agreed that they should also report on the waste from their supply chains.
• 74% of respondents agreed that ‘The Government should, wherever possible, only allow materials that are practicably and safely recycled to be sold in Scotland.’

The Covid-19 crisis has shed light on the vulnerability of our wasteful and unsustainable economy, often characterised by long and ‘just-in-time’ supply chains. Prior to the recent abrupt downturn in economic activity, our economy was eating its way through the world’s natural resources at a rate that was both environmentally unsustainable (4) and undesirable from an economic resilience point of view. Environmental experts say we need to re-programme our economy to extract less from the planet, reuse what we’ve already taken and reduce our waste.

Phoebe Cochrane, Circular Economy Lead for Scottish Environment LINK said:
“The Scottish government must ensure we put the circular economy at the heart of our post COVID-19 recovery measures rather than supporting practices that lock us into a linear, polluting and unsustainable economy.

“The results from this survey, clearly show that the Scottish public is keen to see the government and businesses step up to the mark and implement practices that minimise waste and are good for us and the long-term health of our planet.”

“The coronavirus crisis has brought into sharp focus, for us all, the importance of our natural environment and how much we depend on it for our wellbeing. A move towards a circular economy is pivotal in meeting our climate change obligations and ensuring a resilient economy for the greater good.”


Phoebe Cochrane, 07906 780760,

(1) Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society

(2) Conducted by Survation on behalf of Scottish Environment LINK. Fieldwork conducted: 29th April – 4th May 2020 Population sampled: All residents aged 16+ living in Scotland Sample size: 1,027 respondents

(3) Scottish Government has committed to a green recovery – their agenda is to build a wellbeing economy and to ensure a green recovery.

(4) The 2019 Global Resource Outlook shows that extracting and processing raw materials is responsible for half the world’s carbon emissions and 80% of biodiversity loss; and the consumption of natural resources, which has tripled since the 1970’s, is set to further double by 2060.
We are consuming far more than our fair share of natural resources and if everyone lived like us, we would need about 3 Earths to sustain ourselves, according to ecological footprint data

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