Towards a circular economy

Taking action to reduce waste and its impact.

The next steps in creating a circular economy in Scotland have been announced today, as Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater provided an update to parliament.

Actions include the appointment of waste and sustainability expert Dr Colin Church as the independent chair of the review into the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy in Scotland.

To support the review, which forms part of the cooperation deal with the Scottish Green Party, the Minister announced that planning authorities must now notify Scottish Ministers of any applications or decisions involving incineration facilities, until the end of the review period.

The Minister also announced the first round of funding through the Scottish Government’s £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund.

Over £7 million has been awarded to seven local authorities to increase recycling, while preparing for future developments, including Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme.

The Minister provided an update on the delivery of the scheme, noting the challenges posed by Brexit, the pandemic, and a lack of clarity from UK Government on the VAT treatment of deposits. 

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:

“A circular economy is at the heart of Scotland’s response to the climate emergency and will help dramatically reduce the amount of waste generated in Scotland.

“We must also find better ways to deal with the waste our economy is currently creating. That’s why I’m pleased that Dr Colin Church will bring his wealth of experience from across the waste and environmental sectors to our review on the role of incineration.

“To make sure that any plans are closely monitored while the review is ongoing, we have issued a temporary notification direction today. This will ensure that Ministers are abreast of any new planning applications or planning decisions relating to incinerators. It is temporary and does not in any way pre-empt the outcome of the review.

“We’re also taking action to transform recycling in Scotland. Our Recycling Improvement Fund will deliver one of the biggest investments in recycling in Scotland in a generation. It will make it easier for households to recycle more, and help to deliver the rates of recycling needed to meet Scotland’s ambitious climate targets.

“We are committed to introducing the UK’s first deposit return scheme, helping to increase recycling, reduce littering, and meet our climate targets. While the scheme has been impacted by Brexit and a global pandemic, we are working intensively with Circularity Scotland and industry to make sure it is delivered effectively.”


Dr Church is CEO of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and Chair of the Circular Economy Task Force, a business group convened by Green Alliance. He previously held roles as the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management, non-executive director for WRAP, and various Director roles across Environmental Quality and Climate Change with Defra and the former Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The projects that have received funding are summarised below. Further announcements are expected imminently.

Local authority


Funding awarded


Service change to 3-Weekly Cycle, to align with Scotland’s Charter for Household Recycling. Includes purchase of new bins and recycling containers, and conversation of existing containers


East Lothian

Service change, moving to Household Charter aligned weekly recycling service. Includes purchase of vehicles and infrastructure to allow increased collections



Plastic Film Recycling,



Expansion of Green Waste Collections



Extension of Food Waste Collection


North Ayrshire         

Household Waste  Recycling Centres improvements, including infrastructure to support reuse of furniture and bed mattresses


South Ayrshire

Purchase of on-the-go recycling bins



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