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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Reuse can tackle the cost of living and running costs crises


Charities want more action on creating a circular economy

Charities in Scotland are calling for changes in waste and reuse ahead of a final green bill reading in Scottish Parliament.

The Circular Economy Bill has entered its final stage and reuse charities say it’s still lacking ambition to transform Scotland’s economy and support its most vulnerable.

New research has highlighted child poverty as a critical election issue, with over a quarter of children living in poverty in nearly 55% of Scottish constituencies.

Reuse charity membership organisation Circular Communities Scotland (CCS) is calling for the bill to include restrictions on the disposal of unsold goods, instead allowing reuse charities to receive these items to help those in need.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, CEO of CCS, said: “Reuse charities in Scotland are a lifeline for families as well as our environment. A strong Circular Economy Bill has the power to ensure that items that would unnecessarily end up in landfill or incineration are passed onto charities that can reuse them. Once in their hands, they can be donated to families, sold much lower than market value, or borrowed as part of a sharing library – a huge help those who can’t afford to buy things new.

“Election season provides a crucial opportunity for our political parties to show they are committed to systemic changes to the way we consume, so we can see meaningful impacts on jobs, the economy and to lift the burden from children and families in Scotland.”

Currently there is no legislation in Scotland stopping companies from destroying unsold goods. 

Like many reuse charities, sharing libraries take in and repurpose salvaged merchandise. Similar to traditional libraries, these organisations offer people the opportunity to borrow an item instead of buying one new, allowing families access to goods they may not otherwise be able to afford.

Music Broth, a Glasgow based sharing library, loans out musical instruments to people interested in learning to play, without the burden of purchasing expensive equipment.

James Bajgar, the charity’s music hub manager, said: “Music Broth has shown that a library of instruments can really work. We have over 3,000 items in our stock and have diverted instruments, amps and PA systems, with their difficult to recycle mixed materials, electronics, and heavy metals from landfill.

“Our instruments are available for anyone who wants to use them, through an affordable membership, swapping them as they want or need, and keeping them as long as they like. Music has huge benefits for our mental health, learning and education. We believe learning to play an instrument should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income.”

Reuse charities, supported by CCS, have also shared that they believe that money made from circular policy in Scotland should go back into third sector organisations that are on their communities’ front lines.

Recent research of UK charity leaders has identified key concerns regarding the cost of living crisis on charities.

Over 80% of non-profits said they expected to struggle with increased cost of utilities for their own venues, as well as managing wage increases, while 86% of charitable organisations stated they are worried about the effect of cost-of-living increases will have on those that depend on their services.

Mark Morgan, CEO of humanitarian charity Stella’s Voice, said: “We believe that income generated from circular policies and activities in Scotland should be reinvested into charities and social enterprises that practise reducing waste. It is harder and more challenging than ever to finance a charity under the cost of living and cost of running crises, and our services are needed now more than ever.

“It’s crucial that the Scottish Government understand the link between saving waste and benefits for families. These products and materials aren’t of any use in the bin, instead they do a lot of harm. Reuse charities like Stella’s Voice save items from landfill and allow them to be used for good. It makes sense to support our work, for the environment, and those in need.”



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