Scotland to recruit ‘volunteer army’ to drive circular economy

Zero Waste Scotland is recruiting more than 1,000 'zero waste volunteers' to support its mission to reduce food waste, boost recycling rates and promote re-use, repairing and sharing across the country.

The Scottish Government-funded body is offering funding to organisations to help coordinate volunteer groups that will engage members of the public and pass on information and tips to help reduce waste in their communities.

“We know that people all over Scotland care about the environment and that hundreds are willing to give their time freely to help spread the zero waste message,” explained Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland. “This ‘army’ of volunteers can have a huge impact, from reducing food waste, which can save the average family hundreds of pounds a year, to passing on and learning skills that mean people can repair and re-use more everyday items.

“We want to build on the success of our existing volunteers and get even more behind this grass-roots initiative, so we’re calling on organisations all over Scotland to bid in now to help us with our mission.”

Recyling Ambassadors

Activities from the new volunteer groups could include zero waste cookery demonstrations, passing on skills for repairing or ‘upcycling’ items, helping people to recycle at major events, delivering talks, and organising swap-shops.

A wide range of organisations can apply, including community groups, environmental networks, student organisations, local authorities and third sector organisations. Projects need to be operational from July this year.

The new funding call builds on Zero Waste Scotland’s existing volunteer network, through which over 700 volunteers have engaged over 20,000 people in 50 local areas across Scotland, as well as playing a key role as Recycling Ambassadors during last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Business focus

Writing in an exclusive edie feature earlier today, Rob Boogaard – the European president and chief executive of Interface – stated that there is still more conversation around the topic of the circular economy than action.

“If business is to make meaningful progress towards a thriving low carbon economy then business leaders need to be more aspirational and focused on their desired outcomes,” Boogaard wrote. 

At an EU policy level, the transition to a circular economy has been hindered by the scrapping of the imminent ‘circular economy package, which proposed specific recycling targets for Europe’s Member States. The European Commission is instead set to unveil a ‘more ambitious’ package next month, which will include country-specific waste-reduction targets and a specific roadmap for the implementation of closed-loop business processes.

Luke Nicholls

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