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Scotland's Circular Economy Bill has been passed!

We're pleased to see the approval of the Circular Economy Bill by the Scottish Parliament and believe this can be an important step in our country’s transition to a zero-waste and circular economy as well having the potential to reduce emissions.   

We have engaged positively with the development of the Bill since the initial consultation in 2019, directly responding to consultations, participating in stakeholder events, and working collaboratively with other organisations through Scottish Environment LINK. 

The harsh reality we all have to face is that the extraction of resources is responsible for over half of global carbon emissions. Eighty-two per cent of Scotland’s carbon footprint is embedded in the goods and services we consume and 90% of global biodiversity loss can be attributed to resource extraction. The way we use and consume resources needs to change to tackle the climate, nature, and litter emergencies.  

The Circular Economy Bill will be provide a legislative framework and a number of powers the Scottish Government can use to move from a linear economy to a circular one. This includes the power to introduce circular economy targets, charges for single-use items and restrictions on the disposal of unsold consumer goods. It is vital the government utilises these powers to their full capabilities to bring about real change in the way we consume resources. 

We welcome the provisions in the Bill that will help tackle unsustainable consumption and the blight of litter and flytipping.  The Scottish Litter Survey, published at the end of 2023, found that 90% of respondents agree that litter is a problem across Scotland and our data shows that 94% of roadsides are impacted by litter.  

We know that increasing levels of roadside litter are directly linked to our growing demand for convenience and eating and drinking on-the-go. Therefore, we welcome the introduction of a civil penalty charge for road users that litter from vehicles.  This is something that we called for back in 2017 as part of our roadside litter campaign and we secured support for this change from more than half of local councils. 

As a core delivery partner of the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy Action Plan we also welcome the provisions included to tackle waste crime.  However, we also need to recognise the scale of the challenge facing Scotland in terms of litter and flytipping. Although these new powers will be helpful and a step in the right direction, we believe it is only concerted, collaborative action and sustained investment over years that will turn the tide. 

We believe this Bill has the potential to bring with it the necessary shift in habits, behaviour and  actions that are needed for Scotland to meet its climate targets.  

Barry Fisher, our CEO, said: “We welcome the news that the long-awaited Circular Economy Bill has been passed by the Scottish Government today.  We believe that the significant enabling powers outlined in it will help us to address the climate, nature and litter emergencies facing Scotland.    

 “We have been particularly supportive of proposals in the Bill which aim to tackle our throwaway culture, including the enabling powers to set targets for reducing carbon emissions associated with the consumption of materials the power to set charges on single-use items, and powers that will enable strengthening of the enforcement regimes associated with addressing flytipping and roadside litter.  

“What we purchase, consume and throw away is a huge part of the changes that we all need to make to ensure we shift to a circular economy, where products are redesigned to minimise their environmental impact. 

“We look forward to working in collaboration with key stakeholders to play our part and inspire people to create new, more sustainable habits and a more circular economy.”

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27 June 2024

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