Scotland’s recycling summit

Talks to accelerate action on waste.

Improving recycling rates with clearer information and labelling and more consistent collection services are among the priorities for action identified at Scotland’s Recycling Summit.

Consensus was reached on ensuring more packaging can be recycled and that Scotland’s recycling is managed responsibly and sustainably. There was a strong desire to take further steps to ensure Scotland fulfils its global responsibilities and does not export ‘environmental harm’ to other nations.

The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) also committed to evaluating the Household Recycling Charter and its Code of Practice to enhance the delivery of services, and to form a steering group of leaders to help transform the way Scotland tackles waste and household recycling.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who hosted the summit, said:

“This was an opportunity to focus on our shared goals and opportunities to work collectively to deliver better outcomes for Scotland – there is no doubt we are stronger together and need to look beyond our immediate, individual responsibilities.

“I am very clear that discussions must not end here. I expect that the summit talks must provide a platform for further discussion and – crucially – tangible action.

“I am looking to all parts of Scotland’s recycling chain to continue to work constructively with us and with each other to ensure that we achieve our collective ambitions. We need to keep challenging each other to do more together - to be bold world leaders in creating a more circular economy in Scotland.”

The summit was attended by 30 senior leaders from across industry, non-governmental organisations and public and private sectors.

COSLA Environment and Economy spokesperson Councillor Steven Heddle said:

“Having attended COP25 in Madrid, I am very aware of the massive challenge addressing climate change presents to us, and the responsibility shared by local government to play a key role in doing so.

“We will work in partnership with Scottish Government and other stakeholders to ensure that waste management, recycling and the pursuit of circular economy aims make a substantial contribution to combatting climate change. Scotland’s Recycling Summit brought all the key organisations together to consider how best to make progress towards shared goals and recycling targets and what action to take. Local authorities are fully engaged and committed to taking forward this work.”

Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment chief executive Paul Vanston said:

‘Scotland’s Recycling Summit navigated many of the practical challenges that industry, local government, the Scottish Government and citizens face. As a result there are high hopes Scotland’s ambitions for top recycling rates can follow those in Wales in setting the tone for the UK as a whole.

“Making recycling easy for citizens, including harmonising what can be recycled, was a big focus of the Cabinet Secretary’s mission. Now our collective challenge is to turn words into actions.”


Scotland’s Recycling Summit took place in Edinburgh on Wednesday 18 December.

Scotland’s Charter for Household Recycling can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland website.

The Scottish Government consultation Circular Economy: Proposals for Legislation invited views on proposals for legislation to develop Scotland’s circular economy, including measures to strengthen Scotland’s approach to household recycling collection services. The proposals form part of wider plans for a step change in our approach to reducing, reusing and recycling materials, as part of our transition to net-zero emissions. The six-week consultation closed on 19 December 2019.


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