Delivering Scotland's circular economy - route map to 2025 and beyond: consultation

Through this consultation we set out our proposals for a Route Map to 2025, our strategic plan to deliver Scotland’s zero waste and circular economy ambitions. This consultation invites views on the proposed priorities and actions to reach our waste, recycling and emissions reduction targets.

Package 7: Cross-cutting measures

Ensure the right structures and support are in place to enable action across the circular economy.

Current actions and commitments

  • Develop a digital waste tracking service to monitor waste and resources in real time.
  • Complete household waste composition analysis by 2023.
  • Promote the Scottish Government's Sustainable Procurement Toolkit.
  • Deliver the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan 2020.

Proposed new actions:

  • Introduce duty to develop a Circular Economy Strategy.
  • Develop a monitoring and indicator framework.
  • Undertake a programme of research on waste prevention, behaviour change, fiscal incentives and material-specific priorities.
  • Develop public procurement opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of public spending.
  • Support greater uptake of green skills, training, and development opportunities.

Focus of this package

We have taken a whole-system approach to developing a Route Map to our 2025 waste and recycling targets. In doing so, we recognise that there are a range of cross-cutting measures that underpin progress on all packages. These are:

  • Strategic Interventions
  • Research, data and evidence
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Skills and training

Strategic Interventions

As has been highlighted through this document there is a range of activity already ongoing through policy, existing legislation and regulations. There is a need to ensure the range of actions that we are undertaking are both complementary and coordinated as part of our overall efforts to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

What we are already doing

The Environment Strategy for Scotland[130] creates an overarching framework for Scotland's strategies and plans on the environment and climate change. It sets out a guiding vision for Scotland's environment and our role in tackling the global climate and nature crises.

Making Things Last: a circular economy strategy for Scotland[131] was published in 2016. This integrated elements of the Zero Waste Plan (2010) and Safeguarding Scotland's Resources (2013).

We are embedding the circular economy into our recovery from Covid-19, to ensure our recovery is one that creates good quality, green jobs and ensures a fair and just transition to net-zero. This is central to the measures outlined throughout this consultation, and we have identified five priority sectors and materials: plastics, food, construction, skills, and procurement.

What we are proposing to do


1. We will put a duty on Scottish Ministers to produce a Circular Economy Strategy[†]

As part of the Circular Economy Bill consultation, we are seeking views on an obligation on Scottish Ministers to publish or refresh a Circular Economy Strategy every 5 years in order to strengthen a strategic approach. This would sit within the framework of Scotland's Environment Strategy, supporting the delivery of its vision and outcomes, meet requirements outlined in the Waste Framework Directive and also link to the forthcoming Biodiversity Strategy. As part of the strategy it is also proposed that Resource Reduction Plans are developed for key sectors.


2. We will develop a monitoring framework and associated targets[†]

A Circular Economy Strategy would also include, or signpost to, a new monitoring and indicator framework that will allow for tracking of Scotland's consumption and wider measures of circularity. In turn this could be used to establish relevant targets to drive targeted action.

Research, data and evidence

Scotland's Circular Economy aspirations are some of the most ambitious and forward looking in the world. No country has yet achieved the scale and speed of change that Scotland needs to achieve its 2025 targets, and, like everywhere else, we will need to completely transform our waste and resources sector if we are to achieve our commitment to net zero. That means that research and innovation must sit at the heart of our Circular Economy - we must learn by doing, be open to new and innovative ideas, and continue to test new solutions.

We will also need comprehensive, accurate and robust data to provide the full picture of how materials and products move through our economy. We need to understand where we are currently doing well, and where we have the greatest opportunities for improvement. We need to have high quality, timely datasets to reward good practice, and to direct action where it is most needed.

Finally, we need robust and well supported evidence to underpin our policy approach and evaluate our actions. We need to understand the costs and benefits of taking action, and work with those affected to identify and address potential unintended consequences. We need to understand how international examples of best practice can be applied in Scotland, and the readiness of new approaches and technologies to be rolled out at scale. Finally, we need to understand our behaviours, and the barriers and challenges we all face to moving to a Circular Economy.

What we are already doing

In 2017 we published our 'Strategy for improving waste data in Scotland',[132] in partnership with SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland. The strategy outlines how we will coordinate and deliver a plan to support Scotland's transition to a more circular economy. We have been working to implement the plan over the last five years, including through the measures outlined below.

[From 2022]

We are improving our data and evidence on household recycling performance through waste compositional analysis.

[From 2024]

We are developing a digital waste tracking service in partnership with the UK government and other administrations. The service will make it easier to monitor waste and resources in real time throughout the economy, adding value for all users via a simple-to-use service. We conducted a joint consultation on the service from January to April 2022,[133] and anticipate that the service would be introduced from 2024.

What we are proposing to do


3. We will undertake a programme of research in 2022 and 2023 on waste prevention, behaviour change, fiscal incentives and material-specific priorities

We propose to implement a programme of research, in partnership with other organisations, that will support the measures set out in this consultation, with a particular focus on waste prevention, behaviour change, and consumption. This will build on the considerable body of work that already exists, and will work with partners in academia, the private sector, social enterprises, and NGOs to develop evidence-based policies and best practice. This will include:

  • A review of global measures to reduce consumption, identifying which approaches have proven to be most effective in achieving waste prevention or reduction. We will consider the scale, cost, potential to adapt to the Scottish context.
  • A review of policy measures to reduce food waste, including effective communications, the skills needed to support an optimised food system, the material available to the bioeconomy, and the potential return on investment in food waste prevention.
  • The range of fiscal measures used by other countries to incentivise positive behaviours.
  • The evidence base for introducing statutory targets across a range of measures, including consumption, household recycling, re-use, and food waste. Any targets must be achievable, effective at driving change, and clearly measurable.
  • Developing our modelling and forecasting capability to support future targets and ensure we have the right levers in place to meet them.

Sustainable procurement

Procurement enables and defines how we demand products and services, and underpins investment within the private sector to create new business models and products. The Scottish public sector spends more than £13 billion a year buying goods, services and works.[134] Given this scale of spending this directly helps safeguard the environment and resources and therefore plays a direct role in delivering our waste and recycling targets and action to deliver net zero. This level of purchasing power also has the potential to stimulate market development and innovation, and demonstrate leadership across sectors.

What we are already doing

In early 2021 we issued policy which sets out expectations with respect to climate and circular economy considerations,[135] highlighting that public bodies should use their public procurement spend to support climate and circular economy ambitions, including reporting on progress against strategy commitments in their annual procurement reports.

Ministers also wrote to Chief Officers in the Public Sector with a call to action, highlighting the need for wider engagement across organisations to maximise the positive impact procurement can have on addressing the Climate Emergency.

Zero Waste Scotland is a key partner in ProCirc,[136] a four year transnational project to experiment, implement and learn how circular economy and procurement provide regional economic benefits and to contribute to the international development of circular economy. This includes development of a Circular Supplier Directory, an interactive map for businesses looking to source products and services that are sustainable and circular, as well as a wide range of training materials and established communities of practice.

What we are proposing to do


4. We will develop public procurement opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of public spending.

In the coming year we will analyse market information and spend data to identify areas where regulations under section 82 and 82A of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 could enhance circular economy opportunities in relation to the procurement of goods, works or services.[137] These powers allow Ministers to make regulations that require contracting authorities to purchase goods with recycled content, recycled products or recyclable products

We are also procuring a collaborative Framework for Civil Engineering for use by public sector organisations throughout Scotland. The Framework will include consideration of the circular economy principles by Suppliers to ensure that the works and associated services are in accordance with their Client's response to the climate emergency.

We will further promote and develop the Scottish Government's Sustainable Procurement Toolkit[138] which provides a range of free tools to support public sector procurers to purchase sustainably with a focus on climate and circular economy obligations.

Skills and training

Around 1 in 10 jobs in Scotland relate to the Circular Economy – in activities such as repairing and recycling our goods, engineering, building and decommissioning our infrastructure, managing our waste and resources, and enabling future progress through education and skills development.

The transition to a circular economy provides a wealth of opportunities to transform our labour market, creating high quality jobs and occupations, in areas with persistently high unemployment. 10,000 tonnes of waste can create up to 296 jobs in repair and reuse, compared to 1 job in incineration, 6 jobs in landfill or 36 jobs in recycling.[139] But to realise these benefits, we need to ensure that our education and skills systems will prepare the current and future workforce for a just transition to a fully circular economy. Skills and training opportunities run through the heart of the measures proposed through this consultation, building expertise within and between sectors, and incentivising innovation amongst Scotland's businesses and institutions.

What we are already doing

The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan,[140] led by Skills Development Scotland, sets out a clear direction to reskill, upskill and develop Scotland's current and future workforce to meet our net zero ambitions. This transformation will provide opportunities for the development of new, quality green jobs, embedding green and circular skills, increasing access to growing global markets for Scottish businesses, and stimulating regional growth. This includes a focus on design, analytical and technical skills and remanufacturing processes to support the circular economy, with an emphasis on dismantling products, testing component parts and restoring products to a 'good-as-new' status.

Zero Waste Scotland's circular economy education and skills expertise and Green Jobs Skills Hub influences the skills policy agenda, to provide thought leadership and opportunities for collaboration around circular economy skills, learning and education and to provide tangible resources to enable Scotland to maximise the opportunities presented by the transition towards a Circular Economy.

The Green Workforce Academy[141] provides a guide for people to identify the skills they have and the skills they will need to find and secure green jobs.

We have committed to fund a new national network of community sharing libraries and repair cafes, which will teach people the skills they need to repair and re-use their own items.

Programmes such as Young Enterprise Scotland's Circular Economy Challenge[142] have enabled school pupils from all backgrounds to develop skills in a real-life context, giving them an introduction to business, design and technology relevant to green jobs and the circular economy

Zero Waste Scotland provide opportunities for the education sector[143] to support teachers and lecturers to embed sustainability into primary, secondary, further, and higher education, and circular economy executive leadership training to upskill senior management in the construction and public sectors.

What we are proposing to do


6. We will develop new measures to support greater uptake and development of green skills, training, and development opportunities by 2025

We propose to build on the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to identify opportunities for further development of skills and training that reflect the sector and that are place-specific. We will focus on areas with high potential for growth, such as preparation for reuse standards or repair training to enhance the life of products. We will collaboratively design and deliver activities that maximise the potential for increased employability, and support growth across the environment sector and wider economy through a green recovery.

Specific opportunities in development include:

  • Develop a 'Green Internship Scheme' to upskill young workforce on circular economy and net zero whilst supporting employment opportunities.
  • Undertake Circular Economy Skills audits in supported businesses to understand the business's learning journey, and the challenges and opportunities presented.
  • Conduct a food system and bioeconomy skills gap analysis to better understand what support is needed to accelerate development of this sector.
  • Development of the Circular Economy Sustainable Retrofit Training Programme to embed best practice and ensure skills and performance gaps are addressed.
  • Ongoing circular economy business support to generate learning on the capacity and capability of businesses to deliver circular economy innovations.
  • In partnership with Skills Development Scotland, inform and influence delivery of a virtual Green Jobs Skills Hub.

Consultation questions

Question 13. To what extent do you agree with the measures proposed in this package to support action across the circular economy? Please provide evidence to support your answer if possible.

[Strongly agree / Agree / Neither agree nor disagree / Disagree / Strongly disagree / Not answered]

Question 14. Are there any further measures that you would like to see included in the Route Map to support action across the circular economy?



Back to top