Delivering Scotland's circular economy - proposed Circular Economy Bill: consultation

This consultation seeks views on our proposals for legislation to develop Scotland’s circular economy. The consultation sets out a number of areas in which we are seeking views on whether to take powers within a new Circular Economy Bill.

2) Reduce and Reuse

Reducing and reusing waste are at the top of the waste hierarchy and central to changing our relationship with materials and products. Building an economic system that moves away from being based on items that are designed to be disposable will yield the biggest environmental impacts.

Ongoing Activity

At an EU level, The Sustainable Products Initiative[26] aims to make products placed on the market more sustainable. Ultimately, consumers, the environment and the climate will benefit from products that are more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable, and energy-efficient. The European Commission has recently proposed a range of provisions including banning the destruction of unsold goods and the development of digital product passports which will include mandatory information on circularity and other environmental aspects.

This is an emerging area of policy development and we recognise that many issues, such as elements of product standards and labelling and consumer protection, are reserved. The Environment Act 2021[27] provides a range of powers including enabling regulations to be made in relation to minimum resource efficiency standards, resource efficiency information for products and electronic waste tracking. These powers can be exercised by the Scottish Ministers, or by the UK Government with the Scottish Ministers' consent. We will look to work with UK administrations to take forward joint action where appropriate and utilise powers available under the Environment Act 2021 to keep pace with emerging polices from the Sustainable Products Initiative.

The Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy information Regulations[28], or 'right to repair' regulations, provide ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for specified energy-related products. These reflect equivalent EU regulations. We are engaged with UK Government and the devolved administrations and working closely on eco-labelling.

In November 2021, we made the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021[29] to make it an offence to supply, in the course of business, some of the most problematic single-use plastic products; for some items the manufacture is also banned. The legislation is the first in the UK to ban such a wide range of single-use plastic items and goes further than the single-use plastic bans currently in force in the rest of the UK.

At the moment, the Regulations require to be read in light of the application of the Internal Market Act. However, we have been pressing the UK Government to ensure the ban will be excluded from the UK Internal Market Act and we have secured that exclusion. While it is frustrating the UK Government will not have this exclusion in place by 1 June when our ban comes into force, it should follow shortly after, ensuring the regulations can be fully effective. In addition, we are undertaking further analysis in relation to action on oxo-degradable plastic products which would align with Article 5 of EU Single-use Plastic Directive.

Our 2019 Food Waste Reduction Action Plan (FWRAP) made clear what measures we believe are required to achieve our ambitious food waste reduction target of 33% by 2025. We will assess our progress towards this target by publishing a review and update of the FWRAP in 2022. The FWRAP is designed to engage with every part of our food supply chain, to reduce unnecessary demand and avoidable waste and to optimise how we use our organic resources, including by promoting research and innovation in emerging bio-technologies. In line with the FWRAP, we plan to consult later this year on the current rural exemption and food waste separation requirements for food waste collections.

We are also signatories to WRAP's Courtauld Commitment[30], a voluntary agreement that enables collaborative action across the entire UK food chain. We intend to renew our relationship with Courtauld Commitment 2030 to maximise the benefit of this relationship for Scotland's businesses and people, working with WRAP to implement bespoke projects focused on driving positive sectoral and household behaviour change on food waste.

Textile waste is also a particular challenge, making up just 4% of household waste but 31% of carbon impacts. In the first half of 2022, we will introduce a new £2 million Textile Innovation Fund, to support businesses working in this sector to address issues associated with textile waste and throwaway culture.

Proposal 4: Measures to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods


The destruction of unsold goods represents both wasteful practice and unsustainable behaviour. The EU Sustainable Product Policy Framework within the Circular Economy Action Plan identifies a range of potential legislative measures relating to the impact and design of sustainable products[31]. This included measures to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods, which was consulted on in March 2021[32].

Existing Duty of Care legislation in Scotland requires that waste producers must take all reasonable measures to apply the waste hierarchy when disposing of goods and must also ensure that the waste is managed in a manner that promotes high quality recycling. We would welcome views on whether we should take powers to make regulations and amend the current duty of care to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods.


France has already introduced a ban on companies destroying clothes, cosmetics, hygiene products, electrical items and other unsold or returned items. Rather than landfill or incinerate unsold goods, companies will now have to reuse, donate or recycle their unsold products.

A phased introduction may be desirable, first banning incineration or landfill to push goods towards reuse or remanufacture where appropriate. Any regulations could be focused on goods where there is the most significant environmental impact and informed by improved data collection that digital waste tracking will provide and other proposals contained within this document, such as mandatory public reporting of waste and surplus.

There will be circumstances in which recycling could be justifiable for example:

  • Electrical items withdrawn from the market for safety reasons where rectification is not possible.
  • Items which do not comply with product legislation.
  • Items with no prospect of use / resale – e.g. out of date diaries or calendars.


8. Do you agree that the Scottish Government should have powers to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods?

A) Yes
B) No
C) Neither agree nor disagree

9. Do you have any comments in relation to proposals to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods?

10. Are there particular product categories that you think should be prioritised?

11. Are there product categories that should be excluded from such a ban?

Proposal 5: Environmental charging for single-use items


In May 2018, the Scottish Government formed the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM) to provide expert advice on measures that may be adopted in Scotland, with the goal of encouraging long-term and sustainable changes in consumer and producer behaviour required to move towards a circular economy.

Informed by the EPECOM recommendations[33] and the positive impact of the single-use carrier bag charge, we are proposing to include a power to enable Scottish Ministers to introduce charges on the provision of items that are harmful to the environment, that can be replaced with sustainable alternatives or are problematic to recycle.

Responses to the 2019 consultation, "Developing Scotland's circular economy: consultation on proposals for legislation", showed that there is widespread support from individuals and organisations on introducing powers to enable such a charge. Nearly three-quarters of organisations (73%) and almost all individuals (97%) agreed that Scottish Ministers should have the power to set such a charge.


One area where we intend to use this power is in relation to single-use disposable beverage cups, which create 4,000 tonnes of waste in Scotland each year, and are a symbol of our throwaway society and a very visible sign of litter. The previous consultation found that there was overall support to prioritise implementing a charge on single-use disposals cups (82% overall). That is why we have already taken action and announced the formation of an Advisory Group on the implementation of a mandatory charge on single-use disposable beverage containers. It is our intention to introduce the secondary legislation to implement the charge on the provision of these type of cups during the course of this parliament.

We are also interested to understand views about other single-use items to which a charge might be applied in the future, building on suggestions from the previous consultation to set out where the next set of priority items may be and helping us move to a more circular economy that prioritises reuse over consumption.

We recognise that there have been significant developments since 2019, not least the COVID-19 pandemic. We are therefore requesting any further views or new information on how the proposal to implement a charge on items that are harmful to the environment should be implemented.


12. The previous consultation showed broad support for the proposal that Scottish Ministers should have the power to set charges for environmentally harmful items, for example single-use disposable beverage cups. Is there any new context or evidence that should be taken into account in relation to this proposal?

13. Do you have any further comments on how a charge on environmentally harmful items should be implemented?

Proposal 6: Mandatory reporting of waste and surplus


We are keen to make sure that, in key sectors, there is public transparency on unwanted surplus stock and waste management. Scottish businesses can play a leading role in encouraging wider, positive behaviour changes in relation to waste by measuring and taking action on their waste and surplus. To facilitate this, we must improve data capture and encourage businesses to act on, and ultimately reduce, their levels of waste.

We want businesses to identify whether they have an issue with waste and surplus in their supply chain, effectively measure it, and then act on the results. This journey of waste reduction can then be a positive and inspiring story to tell to the public and act as a key driver of wider citizen behaviour change.

We are proposing that Scottish Ministers should have powers to require mandatory public reporting of unwanted surplus stock and waste of certain materials by Scottish businesses.


Our intention is that the initial priority for subsequent secondary legislation, with further consultation, would be to introduce reporting on food waste and food surplus. Food waste is responsible for 25% of Scotland's total carbon waste footprint[34] and an integral part of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. Some UK food businesses voluntarily report their food waste and surplus annually to WRAP.[35] However, there is no requirement for them to make this information public. We believe food businesses in Scotland can have a significant and positive influencing role on wider society in regards to food waste and its effect on climate change.

We are also keen to explore the scope to apply this requirement to textiles and potentially other waste streams.

The previous Circular Economy Bill consultation indicated broad support for mandatory public reporting of waste and surplus. In the May 2020 analysis of responses, 93% of respondents were in favour of mandatory public reporting of business waste and 87% were in favour of mandatory public reporting of business surplus. Furthermore, 91% of respondents were in favour of mandatory public reporting of food waste and 89% were in favour of mandatory public reporting of food surplus. In their 2020 Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change also recommended introducing mandatory business food waste reporting.[36] However, concerns have been raised by some UK wide businesses and representative bodies who have made clear their opposition to Scotland-specific reporting requirements, which they consider will place additional burden on businesses.


14. The previous consultation showed broad support for the proposal that Scottish Ministers should have the power to require mandatory public reporting of unwanted surplus stock and waste. Is there any new context or evidence that should be taken into account in relation this proposal?

15. The previous consultation showed broad support for the proposal that food waste should be a priority for regulations. Is there any new context or evidence that should be taken into account in relation this proposal?

16. Are there other waste streams that should be prioritised?



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