New resource plan could save businesses billions

A new action plan aiming to cut all waste in Scotland by 7% by 2017 and 15% by 2025 will improve competitiveness and could save businesses billions of pounds.

The Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources Plan expands on the country’s Zero Waste Plan, identifying actions to shift the focus onto waste prevention and resource efficiency. It promises to “reinvent waste as resource and financial asset” to the nation’s economy, which could save Scotland’s businesses and organisations £2.9bn

The news comes as Scotland published details of the carbon impact of its waste. This showed that in 2011, the country’s waste created 14MtCO2eq, equivalent to two million flights around the world. This 2011 baseline will be used to measure progress on the new resources action plan.

Launching the plan at the Scottish Resources Conference today, 2 October, environment secretary Richard Lochhead said the goal is to establish a circular economy, but progress would be impossible without more business engagement.

“This plan’s success will depend on how businesses and individuals respond to the challenges we face and the opportunities we want to create. We want it to galvanise people behind our zero waste vision and to work with us to make it a reality,” he explained.

Help for businesses will include expert advice on how to manage materials, as well as the provision of more tools to help companies assess their resource use. A new tool has already been created to help firms understand the impacts of their waste in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

There is also a commitment to ensure that UK-wide voluntary agreements like the Courtauld Commitment and Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement “work for Scotland”.

The government also hopes to stimulate a design revolution. Around 80% of a product’s lifetime environmental impact is decided by its design. By designing new products and business models to eliminate waste and grow the economy 12,000 new green jobs could be created, said Lochhead. The first 25 of those were also announced today.

Manufacturing firm Panel2Panel has received £168,000 from Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to turn the plastic from fridges and yoghurt pots into construction fittings for schools and hospitals. The expansion of the company will create the 25 new jobs.
If Scotland continues to consume resources at the current rates, 75% more raw materials will need to be extracted in the next 25 years. Iain Gulland, ZWS director, said: “By responding decisively to global resource challenges Scotland can develop a competitive advantage as one of the most resource efficient nations in Europe.”

See November’s LAWR for more on the move from recycling to resource efficiency and our Resource Revolution campaign for more on the move from waste to resource.

David Burrows

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