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Making Things Last - A Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland

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3. Reuse

3.1 Our ambition

We want the sale and use of second hand goods to be seen as an attractive, mainstream, good value option for an increasing range of products. We want reuse businesses and community organisations to thrive, on the back of a growing reputation for quality and value for money. We want our major industrial sectors in Scotland to learn from best practice to optimise the value of used equipment and infrastructure.

3.2 Context

Reuse is a key element of a more circular economy, and is as important for the public as it is for business and industry. The reuse economy in Scotland has a yearly turnover of at least £244 million, supports over 6,000 jobs, reuses 89,000 tonnes of material annually, and provides opportunities for individuals to obtain high quality products at considerably lower cost than new.

Together with the Community Recycling Network Scotland[12], Zero Waste Scotland has developed the Revolve reuse quality standard, designed specifically to overcome issues of consumer confidence, and to establish a robust and recognisable reuse sector in Scotland. Reuse presents a particular opportunity for social enterprises in Scotland, who are in a unique position to deliver the environmental, economic and social benefits of a more circular economy in communities.

Beyond the re-use of products produced by individual companies, there are some significant sector-wide opportunities for re-use that have the potential to expand Scotland's reuse economy. There are particular opportunities in the energy, medical technologies and construction sectors.

3.3 Our priorities

For consumers, we are trialling large scale reuse and repair hubs to encourage increased capture rates, to deliver economies of scale for the sector and to create recognised reuse superstores for consumers.

We propose to further expand the availability of the Revolve standard to include a wider range of reuse organisations, and to develop the standard to provide further confidence for consumers in the products they are purchasing.

We will support local authorities and local reuse organisations to improve reuse collection, storage, retail and communications, including at Household Waste Recycling Centres and through bulky waste services; and through the National Reuse Phoneline, making it easier to donate items.

As the Scottish Household Recycling Charter takes effect, we will consider the potential for a framework for complementary reuse activities between the third sector, local authorities, private sector and the public.

For business and industry, we will introduce large scale, collaborative approaches to re-use in relation to energy infrastructure. This includes:

  • Identifying priority components for re-use in the oil and gas industry, developing protocols and standards for component reuse and supporting the development of re-use markets in oil and gas and other sectors;
  • Addressing opportunities for reusing onshore wind turbines and bases, working with onshore wind operators and developers to explore these opportunities; and
  • Identifying re-use opportunities relating to Scotland's grid and transmission infrastructure.

We will work with partners to identify how regulation can support a greater level of reuse, repair and remanufacturing while continuing to protect the environment. This will include influencing EU-level decisions; and in Scotland, identifying how improvements can be made through the Better Environment Regulation programme[13] and SEPA guidance to clarify the activities subject to waste regulation.

As mentioned in our priorities for design, we recognise the potential for public procurement to support the development of a circular economy, and will explore opportunities within procurement to encourage greater reuse.

Blythswood Care Re-Use Hub, Dingwall

Scotland's first second-hand superstore, which opened in the Highlands last June, is going from strength-to-strength.

It's the first in a national programme of re-use 'hubs' - unique shopping experiences intended to transform the scale and economic clout of re-use retail in Scotland. Blythswood Care's Dingwall Superstore secured funding and support from Zero Waste Scotland after a nationwide call for collaborative bids from private, third and public sector groups to team up on major joint retail initiatives.

Blythswood has teamed up with Revolve-accredited re-use businesses from around Scotland - Glasgow-based Spruce Carpets and Second Opportunities as well as Inverness-based Everything Baby - to offer customers a huge choice of goods.

Encouraging re-use has a key role to play for Scotland's economy and environment, helping us move away from the model of buying items and casting them aside after little use. There is also potential for local job creation.

Many items, which could be used by someone else, currently go to landfill. Thousands of re-usable items end up there every year, including 304,000 individual 3-seater sofas and 151,000 washing machines.

Through their re-use businesses selling books, clothing, furniture and electrical items across the Highlands, Blythswood and other third sector organisations already contribute to carbon savings of over 7,500 tonnes annually.

Blythswood Care Re-Use Hub, Dingwall