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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charity claims government must include targets to measure consumption progress

This news post is almost 2 years old

A consultation on a new Circular Economy Bill will be published later this year.

Environmental campaigners have said attempts to move Scotland towards a circular economy must include concrete targets to measure progress. 

On Friday the Scottish Government announced proposals for a ban on the destruction of unsold, durable goods as part of plans to reduce waste. 

The potential ban will be put forward in a consultation on a new Circular Economy Bill, to be published in May.

The move has been welcomed, but green groups have said the legislation offers an opportunity to tackle Scotland’s over-consumption - with 82 per cent of Scotland’s carbon footprint relates to material consumption.

Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) warned that the government doesn’t currently have any targets on imported goods which means the global impacts of Scotland’s consumption aren’t being properly acknowledged.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at FoES, said: “The Circular Economy Bill is Scotland’s chance to reduce the over-consumption of materials which is killing our planet. 

“The Scottish Government can send a clear signal to all sectors in Scotland, and across the world, that we are serious about the system-level change required to create a circular economy. 

“To do this, we need strong targets which measure, for the first time, the global impact of Scotland’s material consumption.

“The Circular Economy Bill should include targets to reduce consumption and the means to create an independent advisory body, similar to the Climate Change Committee, to advise the Scottish Government on progress.”

The government has said the proposals would make sure Scotland keeps pace with Europe as France has recently enacted such a ban and the EU is currently considering similar interventions.

Circular Communities Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government consultation, claiming the bill has been strengthened since its postponement in early 2020 to include a ban on the destruction of durable products. 

Scotland’s national membership network for third sector organisations has been calling for a strong Circular Economy Bill for the last three years on behalf of its membership of 200 charities Michael Cook, CEO of Circular Communities Scotland said: “Most of us are very conscious of the global imperative to look after our planet but we still have a long way to go when it comes to adopting practices that will really make a difference.

“We are, therefore, delighted with the news of this consultation for the Circular Economy Bill.  Over the last year our organisation has been campaigning to ask the Scottish Government to ban companies destroying products which could easily be repurposed.

“Circular Communities Scotland represents a range of impressive charities and social enterprises providing a whole variety of creative alternatives for materials considered waste or surplus. You would be amazed at the variety of initiatives for repairing and recycling goods, many of which go to people living in poverty. Moreover, the organisations themselves often provide work for people who might be unemployed and/or have additional support needs. It’s a win-win situation.”

Speaking on Friday, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: "It is absolutely senseless for perfectly good products to end up in landfill. Rather than being wasted in landfill or incinerated, they should be reused or repurposed. Organisations like Fresh Start show that there is a real need for items like these, and with the cost of living increasing this need is growing rapidly.

"We are living in a climate emergency. When goods go to landfill without having even been used once, we don't just waste the product – we also waste all the energy and raw materials that went into making it.

“This proposal is a direct response to the public concerns about what happens to items that go unsold. By pursuing a ban, we can make sure they make it into the hands of those that need them, and help Scotland reduce its carbon footprint.

"This is the sort of action that's needed to create a circular economy and shows the level of ambition that will be contained in our proposals in May."