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- Looking after beaches
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- The Origins of George Wyllie's 'Original Earth Guarantee'
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- National disgrace of lockdown litter
- The healing power of local places
- Tackling Covid-19 and climate change at a community level
- Amid the Coronavirus crisis the climate emergency has not gone away
- Bringing environmental education home
- #TurdTag – getting creative to tackle dog poo
- Preparing young people to take action on climate change
- Running on community power
- Reconnecting with nature
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- From Eco-School Committee to environmental charity
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- Playing our part to reduce cup waste
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- Monitoring litter to help keep Scotland beautiful
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- Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful
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- Have yourself a green Christmas
- Shifting up a gear on Scotland’s roadside litter problem
- It’s time to consign our litter problem to the dustbin of history
- We can save our seas by starting at home
- Everyone can do their bit to protect the world – what’s your Goal?
The vision of a circular economy represents a clear alternative to our present ways of making use of our planet’s resources. While in Scotland today there continues to be a large amount of waste inherent to some of our most common production and consumption habits, a fully circular economy is one in which there is no waste: the economy runs entirely on materials which are sustainable and reusable.
The idea of a circular economy is not just an impracticable pipe-dream: the Dutch government has already put considerable effort into achieving its goal of a fully circular, waste-free economy by 2050, while Finland is currently working towards an even more ambitious goal of a circular economy by 2025.
It is in this context – as well as that of the ongoing climate emergency – that the Scottish Government recently set out its proposals for a Circular Economy Bill, with a view to putting one to the Scottish Parliament in 2020. We at Keep Scotland Beautiful believe that such a Bill can play a crucial role in ensuring Scotland continues to make progress against key international benchmarks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and commitments in Scotland through the new Zero Waste Scotland strategy. We are delighted to welcome the proposals and in particular two measures that we believe have an important role to play in this regard.
Firstly, the upcoming Bill proposes the introduction of charges for single-use disposable drinks cups.
Single use cups are an apt symbol of some of the broader problems with the ways in which we produce and consume at present: ubiquitous in cafes and coffee shops across the country, we in Scotland use an estimated 200 million a year. Being difficult to recycle, these cups are often used just once before ending up incinerated or in landfill – generating around 4,000 tonnes of waste and 5,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
We have worked on this issue for some time, and launched our Cup Movement® in Glasgow in 2019, working with those who buy, sell and use these cups to encourage more sustainable cup choices and trial different ways of reducing waste. We believe that the proposed charge will make consumers more aware of the impact their choices can have, encouraging the use of more sustainable alternatives and helping cut waste, litter and carbon emissions. But, it is only part of the solution, we also need to make it easier for people who use a single use cup to recycle it.
The move to treat the registered owner of the vehicle as being ultimately responsible for this crime and issuing them with a fixed penalty represents an important step forward, sending the message that you can – and will – be punished if caught committing this offence. Given that the need to identify the offender is currently the main barrier to enforcing the law in this area, we believe that this measure has the potential to contribute positively to dealing with Scotland’s roadside litter problem.
Importantly, public support for tackling the problem is also clear. Our research has shown that 73% of people think there has been no improvement in roadside litter levels in recent years – with 45% thinking the problem has worsened. Crucially, 88% of people who responded to our research agreed that the owner should face a fine when litter is thrown from their vehicle.
The Scottish Government’s Circular Economy proposals are a welcome step forward in the tackling of the climate emergency and the creation of a more sustainable Scotland. However, we at Keep Scotland Beautiful are also of the firm belief that in the context of a climate emergency, the proposed measures cannot represent the entirety of our action. We look forward to working in partnership with others to ensure that more is done going forward to move the reality in Scotland further towards the vision of a truly circular economy.