Developing Scotland's circular economy: consultation on proposals for legislation

We are seeking your views on proposed legislation for the circular economy bill and secondary legislation.

2. Reuse: encouraging use and reuse to prevent waste

Making products that last and products that can have more than one life will change our economic model to one that is less dependent on raw materials. We are taking measures across different sectors, which consider the full life cycle for products and materials, from production through to consumption and ultimately what is wasted.

Public sector investment from Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and the enterprise agencies is providing support to a diverse and thriving network of businesses, particularly SMEs, and is raising awareness and capabilities around design innovation for the circular economy.[21]

Case study: EGG Lighting[22]

EGG Lighting has received funding from ZWS’s Circular Economy Investment Fund and was awarded the Best Circular Economy Initiative prize at the 2019 Scottish Resources conference. Based in Glasgow, EGG provides ‘lighting as a service’ to businesses. Customers pay to receive an energy efficient lighting service rather than owning the fitting and bulbs. This enables customers to access the latest LED technology at an affordable cost. EGG has an ongoing relationship with its customers and can offer advice on money-saving measures based on analysis of the business needs.

Case study: Revive[23]

Revive is a Glasgow-based start-up that has also been supported through ZWS’s Circular Economy Investment Fund. It aims to divert all used coffee grounds (UCGs) away from landfill, and to extract maximum value from this material. Revive collects UCGs from across Scotland and uses innovative technology to extract ingredients that can then be used in a range of cosmetic, food, drink, pharmaceutical and household products. Selling these ingredients presents manufacturers with a sustainable, circular option.

We are committed to voluntary actions as a signatory of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation New Plastics Economy global commitment to end plastic pollution and the UK Plastics Pact launched by WRAP.[24] These voluntary commitments are driving collaborations between businesses, governments, innovators, NGOs and citizens to build a plastics system that works.

We recognise the importance of embedding circular economy practices within procurement procedures. Zero Waste Scotland is involved in a CircPro project with eleven partners across Europe, who are working together to scale up the development of circular business models, products and services such as take-back, buy and sell on and leasing.

We are putting forward a secondary legislation proposal in chapter 6 about including circular economy obligations within the procurement strategies for Scottish public bodies.

The ‘Revolve’ quality standard has also been created to give shoppers the assurance of the quality of the second-hand goods they purchase. One hundred and fifty stores in Scotland have been certified with this re-use quality standard.

To help us target further activity that will encourage use and reuse to prevent waste, we have identified two proposals to consider for inclusion in the circular economy bill.

(i) Mandatory reporting of waste and unwanted surplus

Waste operators already have an obligation under Duty of Care to report movements of waste.[25]

To prevent and reduce waste effectively, we need to improve our monitoring, measurement and reporting of waste across all sectors. We need to have a clear idea about the type and quantities of waste so that we can target measures effectively.

The waste data strategy for Scotland (2017) commits us to working with others to develop and deliver electronic systems to capture waste data.[26] We are working closely with the UK Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Welsh Government to develop a UK-wide electronic tracking system for waste through the GovTech Smart Waste Tracking Challenge project. The new system is expected to be in place by the end of 2021 and will be a rich source of new data on waste production and management in Scotland.

However, increased attention on how we deal with unwanted surplus products in Scotland, in particular in the food and textile supply chains, has highlighted a data gap. We are also keen to make sure that, in key sectors, there is public transparency on unwanted surplus stock and waste management.

To this end, we are considering introducing public reporting requirements on waste and unwanted surplus stocks of certain types of material that is or may be destined to become waste.

Our proposal is that the circular economy bill will bring forward a power to enable Scottish Ministers 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. We are also keen to explore the scope to apply this requirement to textiles and potentially other waste streams.

We are inviting views on the general enabling power; on the initial priority of food; and about other material streams, such as textiles, to which a requirement could potentially apply in the future. The following sections explore these issues in more detail.

Reporting by businesses on food waste and surplus[27]

At a European level, food waste prevention is an integral part of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. The Revised EU Waste Legislation calls on EU countries to reduce food waste at each stage of the food supply chain, to monitor food waste levels, and to report on their progress.[28] The European Commission is developing a common EU methodology to measure food waste consistently. A key goal of the Commission is to reduce food waste without compromising on food safety.

Scotland’s Food Waste Reduction Action Plan confirmed that to act on food waste, we need to improve our monitoring, measurement and reporting of food waste across all sectors, reflecting the Plan’s ‘target, measure, act’ approach. Although food waste monitoring and measurement methods have developed considerably over recent years, there are still considerable gaps in our knowledge which we need to address, so that we can accurately monitor our progress and proactively target sectors that need enhanced support or action.

The two largest sector sources of food waste in Scotland are Household & Consumer (61%) and Food & Drink Manufacturing (25%). There continues to be some uncertainty about the food waste generated by Hospitality & Catering,

Wholesale & Retail, Education, and Healthcare sectors.

Our main aim is to prevent food waste. However, some waste is unavoidable or inedible (for example, eggshells or peelings/stalks), and we treat this as a resource with value that can be used within a circular economy and supported by other actions from Scotland’s circular economy strategy. Enhanced monitoring and public reporting will help to find resources and develop relevant networks that will ultimately divert suitable materials from the total food waste stream to other uses, in line with the food waste hierarchy.

Reporting by businesses on other waste and unwanted surplus stock, such as textiles / clothing

As well as food, we are also keen to explore the scope to apply this requirement to other waste streams, particularly textiles and clothing because of public interest in ‘fast fashion’.

In terms of textiles and clothing, we recognise that action is already being taken across the world to develop a more sustainable approach to the whole fashion industry and supply chain. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry report 2018 shows that fashion brands are increasingly interested in sustainability and environmental issues, particularly around the production of materials and garments.[29]

In the UK, WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) is a collaborative framework and voluntary commitment to deliver industry-led targets for reducing the use of resources in the clothing industry. The SCAP covers the full process from resource efficient business models, consumer behaviour and sustainable clothing to re-use and recycling. Much of the focus on re-use and recycling is on post-consumer activity and developing better recycling processes. Clear reporting of the waste generated through production of garments when they are then unused or unsold would also help provide a focus for preventing waste by the industry.

(ii) Encouraging the reuse and redistribution of unwanted surplus stock, such as clothing and textiles

It is important that Scottish Ministers have the necessary powers to ensure that waste is dealt with as high up the waste hierarchy as is reasonably practical, and does not simply end up being landfilled or incinerated.

As with all waste holders, retailers and manufacturers are under an obligation to comply with the waste hierarchy under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and it is an offence not to do so. However, this is a general duty and more specific and direct duties to tackle retail waste (e.g. textiles/clothing) may be necessary.

As an illustration, the EU Circular Economy Package (CEP), through the EU Directive on waste (2018/851), introduces the requirement to collect textile waste separately for reuse or recycling from 1 January 2025. As there are already restrictions under Scots law on separately collected waste being landfilled or incinerated (unless it is incapable of being reused or recycled), once we have transposed the EU requirements, it will not be possible to use direct incineration or landfill as the primary means of managing waste clothing and textiles.

Although the CEP requirements will promote greater recycling of waste, within a circular economy model the ideal scenario would be to prevent unwanted surplus materials from entering the waste stream at all. We are therefore keen to encourage their reuse and redistribution. For example, in 2018, France introduced proposals to ban retailers from throwing away unsold clothing. We would be interested to hear views on whether a similar approach in Scotland would be effective.


Please note that there is a general question at the end of the consultation where you can provide further information, if required.

4. To strengthen monitoring, measurement and reporting of waste across all sectors, do you agree with the principle that Scottish Ministers should have the power to require mandatory public reporting of:

I – business waste?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Neither agree nor disagree

II – business surplus?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Neither agree nor disagree

5. Do you agree with the proposal to prioritise introduction of mandatory public reporting for businesses of:

I – food waste?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Neither agree nor disagree

II – food surplus?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Neither agree nor disagree

6. Are there any other items, such as textiles and clothing, that mandatory reporting requirements on waste and surplus should be expanded to in the future?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Don’t know

If yes, please specify:

7. Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage the reuse and redistribution of unwanted surplus stock, such as clothing and textiles?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Don’t know

If yes, please specify:



Back to top