Scotland launches circular economy consultation

Scotland's environment secretary Richard Lochhead yesterday (20 August) launched a consultation aiming to create a fully fledged circular economy for the country.

The consultation will run until 30 October 2015 and will explore the priorities for building a better circular economy and how products and materials can be kept in high value use for as long as possible.

It lays out Scotland’s ambitions to improve on its Zero Waste Plan launched in 2010 by looking at potential actions on the key areas: design, reuse, repair, remanufacture, recycling, recovering value, communications, developing skills and measuring progress.

Lochhead said: “The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes and around 30% of clothing or 1.7b billion items in our wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year. The cost of this unused clothing in Scotland is around £2.5bn.

“In a world of finite resources, where global population and consumption growth are generating volatility and vulnerability in the supply of raw materials, the circular economy approach offers a new and exciting perspective.”

Maximum value

The Scottish Government is developing the consultation through working partners including SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland.

Zero Waste Scotland has already stated its pledge to support firms that want to develop a circular economy business model. This includes a £3.8m Scottish Recycling Fund available to organisations interested in developing sorting, repair, or reprocessing capacity for waste materials.

The organisation’s chief executive Iain Gulland said: “Aiming to move away from our current ‘make, use, and dispose’ way of life, a circular economy aims to create a society where it’s easier for us all to make the most of what we have. For example, in a circular economy, the leasing, lending, and sharing of things, such as clothing, tools, and toys, could become the norm.”

EU consultation

Scotland’s announcement comes in the same week that the EU closed its own 12-week circular economy public consultation, which will help inform the European Commission’s upcoming circular economy action plan, to be presented by the end of 2015. 

The Resource Association, the trade association for the recycling industries, yesterday submitted its formal response to the EU consultation, with chief executive Ray Georgeson claiming there is now a “golden opportunity” to put quality recycling at the heart of a circular economy.  

Georgeson said: “We know that the circular economy is about much more than recycling, but getting the collection and processing of secondary raw materials in the best order possible to underpin the emergence of a more circular economy has to be a paramount priority for the Commission’s revised waste legislation.

“Leadership from Europe is our best hope of making sure this happens across Europe in ways that respect the situation of individual Member States whilst delivering the ‘European recycling society’ held for so long as an objective of the European Union.”

Ideas generated by the EU’s consultation will feed into a new Circular Economy Package which aims to transform Europe into a “competitive resource-efficient economy”.

Image: Ellen MacArthur Foundation circular economy team

Matt Mace

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