Managing waste

Resource efficiency

In Making Things Last: a circular economy strategy for Scotland we set out how we aim to move Scotland towards a more circular economy through using resources more efficiently, reducing waste, encouraging re-use and increasing recycling.

Through Zero Waste Scotland programme Resource Efficient Scotland we are supporting businesses, third sector and public sector organisations to boost productivity by using energy, materials and water more efficiently.

We support the European Commission's vision that all plastic packaging should be easily recycled or reusable by 2030.

Circular economy

A circular economy is one where products and materials are kept in high-value use for as long as possible. Moving Scotland towards a more circular economy will benefit:

  • the environment, by cutting waste and carbon emissions and reducing reliance on scarce resources
  • the economy, by improving productivity and resilience and opening new markets
  • communities, by providing more lower-cost options for accessing the good we need, with opportunities for social enterprise

Packaging extended producer responsibility

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a way of ensuring that producers are financially or operationally responsible for the environmental impacts of their products. Nearly 1 in 5 tonnes of material flowing through the Scottish economy is waste, highlighting how linear our economy is. Material consumption in Scotland is responsible for over two thirds (74%) of Scotland’s carbon footprint, with more than 10 million tonnes of packaging waste produced every year in the UK.  A substantial part of packaging waste ends up in landfill, two-thirds of which could instead be recovered, resulting in avoidable environmental costs.

Consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system

The Scottish Government, along with the UK Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland have launched a second stage consultation on 24 March on introducing a UK packaging extended producer responsibility system.

This follows a first stage consultation in 2019.

The consultation document is available. 

The Scottish Government has developed a range of Impact Assessments to accompany the consultation:

Zero Waste Scotland has more information on producer responsibility and current developments.

Single-use materials

Single-use materials such as disposable coffee cups and plastic straws represent an extremely inefficient use of resources.

While some single-use items are more recyclable than others, rather than displace activity into alternative single-use materials we aim to shift behaviour in Scotland away from single-use materials completely.

We have taken the lead in this by banning single-use hot drinks cups in all Scottish Government buildings, which will prevent 450,000 cups being thrown away per year.

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