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.

Chapter 1. Background

1.1 Purpose

The Scottish Government is committed to moving towards a circular economy and addressing the climate emergency.

We have set five ambitious waste and recycling targets, that span the waste hierarchy, to drive progress towards these goals:

  • 15% reduction of all waste by 2025, against 2011 levels
  • 33% reduction of food waste by 2025, based on 2013 baseline
  • Minimum of 60% recycling of household waste by 2020
  • Minimum of 70% recycling of all waste by 2025
  • Maximum 5% of all waste to landfill by 2025, and a ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill by 2025

Although we have made significant progress, we know we have more to do if we are to meet all these targets in full. The Scottish Programme for Government 2020-21 and Scotland's Climate Change Plan update in 2020 set out our determination to accelerate progress, and commitment to develop a Route Map to reduce waste and meet our targets in a way that maximises carbon saving potential, 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.

1.2 Aim of this consultation

This consultation invites views on the proposed priorities and actions for the Route Map to 2025 and beyond. It is aimed at everyone who has a role to play: communities, businesses, the third sector, the public sector including local government, and the people and communities of Scotland. It is the start of a national conversation on how we deliver our vision for the circular economy – and in doing so meeting our commitments in the Climate Change Plan, and securing the opportunities for investment and job creation in the circular economy in Scotland.

Our proposed priorities are to:

  • Promote and support responsible production and consumption (including tackling consumption of single-use items and promoting reuse).
  • Reduce food waste from households and businesses.
  • Significantly 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.

1.3 Scope

The circular economy and waste policy is a complex landscape. We must consider Scottish, UK, European and global dimensions. The production of our products, services and materials involves supply chains that span the globe. As a devolved nation, we have set out our clear commitment in seeking to maintain or exceed EU environmental standards,[1] and we are taking action on policy measures that lie within devolved competence. However, some of the policy measures required to drive the transition to a fully circular economy are dependent upon UK Government action. We set out our calls to others, including the UK Government, in this consultation.

Given this complexity, it is important to consider both legislative and non-legislative measures that will help us achieve our goals.

We are consulting on a Circular Economy Bill to bring forward the primary legislation we need to underpin our key policy measures. The Circular Economy Bill consultation is available here: Circular Economy Bill consultation.

In this consultation, we are consulting on our non-legislative proposals, and on how both legislative and non-legislative proposals will work together to transform how we produce, consume, and manage Scotland's resources.

1.4 Consultation structure

In the first chapter of this consultation, we outline our aims and purpose, the principles that underpin our approach, and the evidence to inform our proposals.

In the second chapter we describe our progress so far, the reasons we need to go further, and the benefits that we will gain from achieving our targets.

In the third chapter we describe our actions to date, and set out proposed new actions that we will do, develop or investigate (Box 1), grouped into seven change packages (see table). We ask a series of consultation questions to seek your views and feedback on these proposals.

Theme: Change Package

Consumption and production: Promote responsible consumption, production and re-use

Food waste: Reduce food waste

Household recycling: Improve recycling from households

Business and commerce: Improve recycling from commercial businesses

Construction and demolition: Embed circular construction practices

Residual waste: Minimise the impact of disposal

Cross-cutting measures: Ensure the structures and support are in place to enable action across the Circular Economy

In the fourth chapter we look beyond our 2025 targets and set out the principles that will underpin our ambition for the circular economy to 2030 and beyond.

In the fifth and final chapter we outline the work that we will undertake to act on your feedback through this consultation and publish the final Route Map to 2025 and beyond.

Box 1: Do-Develop-Investigate Framework

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

  • Do: Policy measures are ready to be implemented (subject to any further consultation and/or assurance work where required).
  • Develop: Policy measures are available, but we need further research or planning to refine how measures will be implemented.
  • Investigate: Policy measures are being considered, but we need to understand if they are feasible and effective within Scottish context.

1.5 Approach and guiding principles

The proposals set out in this consultation draw upon a wide range of evidence (Technical Annex), including published and peer reviewed literature, SEPA waste data for Scotland,[2] and previous research by the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland and other parties.

In partnership with SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland, we engaged in a period of pre-consultation engagement to build a shared understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and potential measures with a range of cross sector stakeholders. The findings from the pre-consultation period have directly informed this consultation, and we will engage in strong collaboration at every stage to ensure that national-level policy is effectively considered, designed, and implemented into meaningful local-level change.

Our approach has been underpinned by five guiding principles that have shaped the proposals set out in this consultation and will continue to guide the development and implementation of the full Route Map to 2025 and beyond (see Box 2).

Box 2: Guiding Principles

We take a whole system approach. The way that material flows around the economy is complicated and influenced by everyone in the supply chain. We need to consider the whole system – including our global footprint – to create a package of measures that is greater than the sum of its parts, to maximise the benefit to Scotland of the transition to a circular economy.

We are ambitious and agile. No country has yet identified a long-term pathway to achieving zero waste and a circular economy. We must be brave and bold, learn by doing, and be agile to the world around us. We must consider actions that have the potential to drive future change, even if they are not ready yet, and therefore set out a range of proposals at different levels of development.

We are evidence driven. Not all the answers are known at this stage. We will be led by a clear evidence-driven approach that underpins our actions and investments. Through our scoping process, we have also identified a number of areas where further evidence is required (see Package 7).

We are fair and inclusive. The system-wide change we need will impact everyone. It must be designed and delivered in a fair, inclusive way. We are committed to ensuring that future generations and those least able to pay are not unfairly burdened, and that existing inequalities are tackled, not exacerbated - particularly in the context of the cost of living challenges we are now facing.

Everyone must play their part. Achieving our waste and recycling targets and wider emissions reduction is a shared endeavour. Collaboration and partnership have been critical to our progress so far, and we can only be successful if everyone plays their part – government, households and businesses.



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