Reducing waste

Banning the destruction of unsold goods could support a circular economy.

The destruction of unsold, durable goods could be banned as part of plans to reduce waste, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater has announced.

Proposals for a ban will be put forward in a consultation on a new Circular Economy Bill, to be published in May.

It is intended to address public concerns about unsold products being destroyed or ending up in landfill. Retailers may be required to look for other options for unsold products, including donating and recycling them.

The proposals would make sure Scotland keeps pace with Europe as France has recently enacted such a ban and the EU is currently considering similar interventions.

To mark the announcement, the Minister will visit Fresh Start in Edinburgh. The charity distributes essential household goods and white goods donated by retailers as part of their work to help people who have been homeless establish themselves in their new home.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:

"It is absolutely senseless for perfectly good products to end up in landfill. Rather than being wasted in landfill or incinerated, they should be reused or repurposed. Organisations like Fresh Start show that there is a real need for items like these, and with the cost of living increasing this need is growing rapidly.

"We are living in a climate emergency. When goods go to landfill without having even been used once, we don't just waste the product – we also waste all the energy and raw materials that went into making it.

“This proposal is a direct response to the public concerns about what happens to items that go unsold. By pursuing a ban, we can make sure they make it into the hands of those that need them, and help Scotland reduce its carbon footprint.

"This is the sort of action that's needed to create a circular economy and shows the level of ambition that will be contained in our proposals in May."

Michael Cook, CEO of Circular Communities Scotland said:

“We are delighted a timetable has been set for consulting on the Circular Economy Bill and look forward to working with Scottish Government to deliver as ambitious a bill as possible. We have been campaigning for a ban on companies destroying products which could easily be repurposed for some time and, therefore, welcome, and fully support this proposal.

“Circular Communities Scotland represents a range of impressive charities and social enterprises providing a whole variety of creative alternatives for materials considered waste or surplus. This bill validates their significant contribution towards establishing a more circular economy in Scotland."


The Circular Economy Bill consultation will launch in May, alongside a consultation on new measures to achieve Scotland's 2025 waste and recycling targets.

A circular economy is a key component of the Scottish Government's response to the climate crisis, aiming to reduce waste and keep products and materials in use for as long as possible.

The EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan identifies a range of potential legislative measures relating to the impact and design of sustainable products, including measures to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods.

France has already introduced a ban on companies destroying clothes, cosmetics, hygiene products, electrical items and other unsold or returned items. Rather than landfill or incinerate unsold goods, companies have to reuse, donate or recycle their unsold products.


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