Network of sharing libraries and repair cafes

Funding to deliver key recommendation of Scotland’s Climate Assembly.

The Scottish Government is to help fund a new national network of community sharing libraries and repair cafes as part of a drive to reduce consumption and cut waste.

Under the £310,000 reuse and repair scheme, funded jointly with Zero Waste Scotland, more resource libraries will be established across Scotland - a key recommendation of Scotland’s Climate Assembly.

The facilities allow people to borrow items such as high quality tools, equipment, clothes and toys rather than buying them.

The scheme - overseen by the Circular Communities Scotland charity in collaboration with Edinburgh Tool Library and Edinburgh Remakery - will also see more repair cafes set up to teach people the skills to repair items.

A report by Social Investment Scotland on behalf of Zero Waste Scotland in 2020 identified 24 repair cafes and sharing library projects in Scotland and the intention is to increase this to 100 in the next three years.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Michael Matheson said:

“Scotland’s Climate Assembly called for action and I’m very pleased that we will support a network of resource libraries and repair cafes.

“Sharing libraries provide a direct reduction in consumption, waste and emissions because they allow people to switch from purchasing and owning items to borrowing them instead. Repair cafes give people the skills to re-use their own items.

“This network also supports our drive to tackle poverty by giving lower income groups access to tools or equipment not otherwise available and the skills to use them.”

Chief Executive Officer of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland, said:

“Scotland - and the world - urgently needs to address its consumption problem. The current demand on the planet’s finite, precious materials is unsustainable.

“The circular economy is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal. We can reduce our consumption by keeping existing materials in circulation and only buying new when absolutely necessary.

“Sharing libraries and repair cafes are not only great ways of implementing a more circular way of living, but an opportunity to get to know people and businesses doing amazing work in your community. We hope to see as many of these local initiatives come to fruition as soon as possible.”

Michael Cook, CEO, Circular Communities Scotland said:

“For Scotland to combat climate change, we each need to change our own consumption behaviours. Sharing libraries and repair cafés provide simple and effective solutions to do this whilst reducing our carbon footprint.

“Rather than throwing an old item away we can repair it at a repair cafe, or even better, be taught the repair skills to fix it ourselves. Similarly, rather than buy a new product we can borrow one from a local sharing library. We are delighted to receive this funding to form the new network and significantly grow the number of these projects in Scotland.”


The project, which will be reviewed to ensure it is having an impact, will be jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland from January 2022.

New and existing sharing libraries and repair schemes will be able to access a range of support to set up, meet standards, train staff, mentor new projects and to establish relationships with local authorities and housing associations. The network will also encourage groups to share donations. For example, Edinburgh Tool Library is due to receive 450 tools from a local housing association and provides regular support to other tool libraries across the UK.

Find out more about Circular Communities Scotland

Read the Scotland’s Climate Assembly report

The Material Flows Account report by Zero Waste Scotland shows the average Scot consumes 18.4 tonnes of materials every year. Academics agree that a sustainable level of material use, which would still allow for a high quality of life, is about eight tonnes per person per year. Find out more about Scotland’s unsustainably high level of consumption.


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