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.

Executive Summary

A circular approach to our economy, where we move from a "take, make and dispose" model to one where we keep materials in use, is imperative if we are to tackle the climate and nature crises. The transition to a circular economy will also provide wider economic, environmental and societal benefits.

Scotland has made significant long-term progress towards its ambitious 2025 waste and recycling targets. Emissions from the waste and resources sector have reduced by almost three quarters over the past 20 years. However, progress has slowed in recent years and we know we have more to do if we are to meet all our targets in full.

Our Programme for Government 2020-21 and Scotland's Climate Change Plan update set out our determination to accelerate progress, and commitment to develop a Route Map to reduce waste and meet our targets. We are determined to hit our targets in a way that maximises carbon saving potential, and we are working with partners to identify how the waste and resources sector will contribute towards Scotland's journey towards net zero in the period to 2030 and beyond.

We have a range of transformational measures already in place or underway, including bans on problematic single-use plastic items, implementation of Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme, reform of extended producer responsibility for packaging and our £70 million investment in local authority recycling infrastructure. However, it is clear that further system-wide changes are required if we are to meet our 2025 targets in full and deliver required emissions reductions.

This consultation seeks views on the strategic approach to meeting our goals between now and 2025, and looking beyond to 2030. Our proposed priorities are to:

  • Promote responsible consumption and production (including reducing consumption of single-use items, promoting product design and stewardship and mainstreaming reuse)
  • Reduce food waste from households and businesses
  • Improve recycling from households and businesses
  • Embed circular construction practices
  • Minimise the impact of disposal of waste that cannot be reused or recycled
  • Strengthen our data and evidence, sustainable procurement practices, and skills and training

Building on measures already in place or underway, the consultation proposes a range of additional legislative and non-legislative measures that can positively contribute to the delivery of the targets and make progress towards carbon reduction. Proposals are grouped into seven change packages, which span action across the whole circular economy. We are seeking your views on the feasibility and ambition of our proposed Route Map to reaching our 2025 waste and recycling targets, and to achieving our long term goal of net zero by 2045. We are also consulting in parallel on a Circular Economy Bill to bring forward the primary legislation we need to underpin some of our key policy measures. The Circular Economy Bill consultation is available here: Circular Economy Bill consultation.

Package 1: Promote responsible production, consumption and re-use

Material consumption and waste are the primary drivers of nearly every environmental problem we currently face, and around 90% of the carbon impact of Scotland's waste is produced before disposal. We want to challenge the current approach to production and consumption by improving product design, mainstreaming reuse and repair, and incentivising sustainable choices.

Current actions and commitments

  • Introduce a ban on certain single-use plastic items.
  • Take action to reduce consumption of single-use food containers.
  • Fund re-use projects, infrastructure and businesses through the Recycling Improvement Fund and Circular Economy Investment Fund.
  • Support sharing libraries and repair cafes, increasing the total to 100 by 2025.

Proposed new actions:

  • Take powers to introduce environmental charges to tackle consumption of problematic products and promote a move to more sustainable alternatives.
  • Introduce a charge for single-use disposable cups by 2025.
  • Develop a prioritised approach to charges and bans on environmentally damaging products.
  • Publish a prioritised approach to product stewardship.
  • Take powers to set statutory consumption reduction targets.
  • Investigate the feasibility of a national reuse target.
  • Identify ways to expand business models that prolong product lifespan.
  • Support measures to improve the reuse experience for consumers.
  • Keep pace with the EU Sustainable Product Initiative.
  • Run a national communications campaign focused on sustainable consumption.

Package 2: Reduce food waste

Almost one million tonnes of food and drink is thrown away every year in Scotland. Not only does this cost Scottish households an average of £440 per year, but household food waste alone accounts for 2.7% of Scotland's total carbon footprint. We want to reduce food waste from all sources, building on our Food Waste Reduction Action Plan.

Current actions and commitments:

  • Our 2019 Food Waste Reduction Action Plan (FWRAP) sets out the actions we are taking to prevent food waste in Scotland. We will review and update the plan in 2022.
  • Run national communication campaigns to encourage positive food waste behaviour.
  • Support WRAP's Courtauld 2030 Commitment, a UK-wide voluntary agreement that brings together organisations to reduce food waste, and maximise benefit for Scotland.
  • Fund food redistribution in Scotland via FareShare's 'Surplus With Purpose' scheme.

Proposed new actions:

  • Take powers to introduce mandatory public reporting of food surplus and waste.
  • Investigate the feasibility of food waste reduction action plans by 2024.
  • Intensify action to tackle household food waste, by developing a food waste behaviour change strategy and enhancing support for Scottish households to reduce their food waste more easily.
  • Provide enhanced support for businesses and organisations to reduce food waste and promote a circular bioeconomy.
  • Strengthen community food redistribution networks, including additional funding.

Package 3: Improve recycling from households

Up to 60% of what households put into general waste bins can be recycled using existing recycling services, helping to conserve our natural resources and keep valuable materials flowing through our economy. We want to improve and optimise the performance of household recycling collection services to make the right choices the easier choices for households, ensure high standards across Scotland, and maximise diversion of waste from disposal.

Current actions and commitments

  • Invest £70 million in recycling infrastructure across Scotland through the Recycling Improvement Fund.
  • Evaluate the Scottish Household Recycling Charter and review its supporting Code of Practice.
  • Consult on requirements to separately collect garden waste by 2023, textiles and hazardous elements of household waste by 2025.
  • Consult on the current rural exemption and food separation requirements for food waste collections.
  • Introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and batteries.
  • Deliver Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme.

Proposed new actions:

  • Facilitate a process to co-design high quality, high performing household recycling and reuse services, with appropriate communications standards, with COSLA, local authorities and service operators.
  • Strengthen the monitoring and reporting framework for local authority waste services, and explore introducing a requirement on local authorities to report publicly on end destination of household recycling collected.
  • Take powers to place additional requirements on local authorities regarding household collection services and develop statutory guidance for household waste services.
  • Take powers to introduce statutory recycling local performance targets for household waste services.
  • Undertake a review of waste and recycling service charging.

Package 4: Improve recycling from commercial businesses

Commercial and industrial waste accounted for 28% of Scotland's waste in 2018. We want businesses to have the information and support they need to reduce waste and maximise recycling, with clear incentives in place to ensure that the most sustainable choices are the easiest choices.

Current actions and commitments

  • Deliver the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) on 16 August 2023.
  • Implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries from 2024 onwards.
  • Develop a digital waste tracking service, in partnership with the UK government and other administrations.
  • Take action to address waste crime, including publication of a new Litter and Flytipping Strategy and creation of the flytipping forum.

Proposed new actions:

  • Conduct a national compositional study of waste from commercial premises.
  • Review compliance with recycling requirements.
  • Co-design measures, including targeted communications, to improve commercial waste service provisions that drive waste prevention and reuse, with a particular focus on food waste recycling.
  • Research and pilot commercial waste zoning approaches.

Package 5: Embed circular construction practices

Construction and demolition accounts for around half of all waste produced in Scotland. We want to embed circular construction practices and increase awareness to reduce resource needs, reduce waste and carbon, and encourage refurbishment and reuse.

Current actions and commitments

  • Introduce requirements through the National Planning Framework 4 to encourage developers to minimise waste and carbon intensity in construction projects.
  • Promote The Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard, a voluntary standard to support public bodies to meet their net zero commitments.
  • Support the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.

Proposed new actions:

  • Work with industry to accelerate the adoption of best practice standards.
  • Investigate options to incentivise refurbishment of buildings.
  • Coordinate a Scottish Programme for Reuse of Construction Materials and Assets.
  • Investigate the potential use of recycling bonds to divert material from landfill.
  • Consider how devolved taxes can incentivise the use of secondary aggregates and support circular economy practices.
  • Work with industry to identify ways to reduce soil and stones going to landfill.
  • Facilitate the development of a soil symbiosis programme.

Package 6: Minimise the impact of disposal

While our goal is to continue to reduce the amount of residual waste we produce, until we move to a fully circular economy there is a need to consider how to minimise the impact of residual waste. We want to achieve the best environmental outcomes for materials that can't be captured for reuse or recycling, and ensure environmental and economic value of wasted resources and energy is harnessed efficiently.

Current actions and commitments:

  • Introduce a ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill by 2025.
  • Consult on extending the biodegradable landfill ban to non-municipal waste.
  • Expand the existing landfill gas capture programme.
  • Commission analysis of bio-stabilisation options.
  • Consider and respond to recommendations from the independent review into the role of incineration within Scotland's waste hierarchy.
  • Investigate measures to ensure new energy from waste plants are more efficient and 'future-proof' waste infrastructure for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
  • Consult, with other UK governments, on expanding the UK Emissions Trading Scheme to include Energy from Waste.

Proposed new actions:

  • Develop a Residual Waste Plan to ensure the best environmental outcome for materials and set strategic direction for management of residual waste to 2045.
  • Restrict the incineration of fossil materials, through the development of a sector-led plan by 2024.
  • Investigate fiscal measures to incentivise low carbon disposal, including the potential to include energy from waste in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Package 7: Cross-cutting measures

We have taken a whole-system approach to developing a Route Map to our 2025 waste and recycling targets. We want to ensure the right structures and support are in place to enable action across the circular economy, including strategic interventions and governance, research, data and evidence, sustainable procurement, and skills and training.

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.

It is the role of government to create a policy landscape where waste reduction and recycling are normal, easy, attractive, and routine. But we can only be successful if everyone plays their part – government, households and businesses. Achieving our waste and recycling targets and wider emissions reduction is a shared endeavour, and this consultation empowers communities to join the national conversation on how we manage our waste and make the transition to net zero.

As we plan for 2025 and beyond, not all policy measures are fully ready to be implemented in Scotland and we have applied a 'Do-Develop-Investigate' framework that recognises that the measures proposed are at different levels of development.

Some of the policy measures we need to drive the transition to a fully circular economy rely on action by the UK Government.

The measures set out in this consultation primarily focus on the action we can take before 2025 to accelerate progress towards our existing 2025 targets. However, they also lay the foundations for the transformational change we will need to see across our whole economy and society in the years ahead. We propose to set new circular economy targets to the period to 2030. We also propose to go beyond weight-based criteria and ensure that any future targets correspond to our Environment Strategy and overall vision for a circular economy, taking account of several key principles, notably our commitment to achieve net zero by 2045 and align with the EU; and the need to reduce the material footprint of our resources and waste and maximise the value of our circular economy.

This consultation marks the start of a process to assess the potential impacts on equality, socio-economic considerations, island communities, business and regulation, and the environment. High-level and screening impact assessments have been developed to accompany this consultation. The feedback we receive on overarching impacts, and for sectors or themes, will be used to update the initial impact assessments accompanying this consultation, and develop further assessments where appropriate. We will also incorporate feedback to inform future impact assessments for specific interventions, as required. Further information about our approach to impact assessments can be found at Chapter 5.

Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 22 August 2022.

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to this consultation online at Delivering Scotland’s circular economy: A Route Map to 2025 and beyond, or by completing a Respondent Information Form.

Existing and proposed new measures underpinning Scotland's Circular Economy Route Map to 2025 and beyond
This figure summarises and highlights the numerous existing and proposed new measures by the Scottish Government from 2022 to beyond 2025 to deliver a circular economy.  This includes consulting on Circular Economy Bill proposals in 2022, to a ban on destruction of durable goods after 2025.



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