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 tried-and-tested method to make producers responsible for the environmental impacts of their products. It incentivises them to make more-sustainable design decisions and creating a source of income to pay for the collection and reuse or recycling of these products at end-of-life.

Alongside the other UK governments, we are working to introduce EPR for packaging from 2025. Packaging EPR will see producers paying £1.2bn (per annum, UK-wide) to local authorities, funding them to run efficient and effective household packaging waste collection services. It will include measures to incentivise producers to use packaging that has a lower environmental impact. For example, by making it easier to recycle, as well as requiring simpler labels to make it easy for people to tell whether or not packaging can be recycled.

The introduction of packaging EPR means that we need to revise the code of practice on sampling and reporting at materials facilities. Our consultation on the revised code closed on 19 April 2024. We are reviewing responses to consider when drafting the final code of practice. The draft code of practice on sampling and reporting at materials facilities is available for review in advance of the final code publication.

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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