Delivering Scotland's circular economy: Proposed Circular Economy Bill - Consultation analysis

Report of the analysis of responses to the consultation on proposed provisions for a Circular Economy Bill.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Policy Context

The circular economy looks beyond the current ‘take, make, waste’ consumption model and aims to adopt practices such as reducing, reusing, repairing, remanufacturing and recycling. It allows organisations to decouple their economic activity from the consumption of resources while generating new revenue streams, reducing costs, providing local employment and increasing self-sufficiency and resilience, and to cut pressures on the natural environment such as waste and carbon emissions.

The Scottish Government has been at the forefront of implementing the circular economy’s principles. In 2016 Scotland released its first Circular Economy Strategy, Making Things Last, which set out the opportunities and priorities for maximising the value of materials and products in the system. Scotland has also set various ambitious waste and recycling targets, including ending the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste, reducing the percentage of all waste sent to landfill to 5%, and recycling 70% of all waste, by 2025. To date, the nation has made significant progress towards reaching its ambitions, for instance through recycling over 60% of waste in 2021.

But more must be done. Indeed, in their Carbon Footprint of Scotland’s Waste report published in 2020, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) estimated that 80% of the carbon footprint in Scotland in 2017-2018 came from the materials, products and services produced, consumed and discarded. More precisely, in their Material Flow Analysis conducted in 2021, ZWS showed that raw material consumption in Scotland was 18.4 tonnes per person in 2017. This is more than twice as high as the sustainable level according to experts (which is estimated at 8 tonnes per person per year) and nearly 40% higher than the global average (which is 13.3 tonnes per person). This is not sustainable. Therefore, to ensure that Scotland meets its targets, develops long-term goals to meet its Net Zero ambition by 2045, and leads the way in terms of ambitious government action, various initiatives were taken by the Scottish Government.

This included the update of Scotland’s Climate Change Plan in 2020, linking directly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal no.12 “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. This document sets out that by 2045, social, economic and cultural norms in Scotland will be driven by:

  • Responsible Production: the lifespan and value from the natural resources used to make products is maximised by the businesses and organisations supplying them through the implementation of the circular economy’s principles.
  • Responsible Consumption: individuals and businesses consume products and services in ways respecting Scotland’s natural resources limits. Also, unnecessary waste, such as food waste, are unacceptable in Scotland.
  • Maximising Value from Waste and Energy: the efficient capture of wasted resources and energy’s environmental and economic value.

Also, in 2019, the Scottish Government proposed a Circular Economy Bill , however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bill was not introduced in the parliamentary session. The 2021-2022 Programme for Government committed to bring forward this Bill, and a second consultation (upon which this report focuses), building on measures included in the previous 2019 consultation and introducing a range of new provisions, was launched in May 2022. This second consultation seeks views on whether to take powers within a Circular Economy Bill across the following four themes and associated proposals:

  • Strategic interventions: circular economy strategy obligation, statutory targets (consumption reduction, reuse and recycling) and the establishment of circular economy public body.
  • Reduce and reuse: measures to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods, environmental charging for single-use items and mandatory reporting of waste and surplus.
  • Recycling: strengthening approach to household recycling collection, the role of targets to support recycling performance, the Duty of Care for households, incentivising waste reduction and recycling (households) and business recycling collecting zoning.
  • Littering and improving enforcement: new penalty for littering from vehicles and seizure of vehicles.

These Bill proposals support the development of a Waste Route Map which was consulted on at the same time. Through adopting a whole-system approach, the Scottish Government has highlighted that, even though progress was being made in all areas, there was still a significant challenge to achieve Scotland’s waste and recycling targets. Therefore, key actions needed to maximise progress whilst specifically identifying how the waste and resources sector will contribute towards meeting Scotland’s net zero ambitions were laid out in the text, setting a clear direction for the next five to ten years.

1.2 The Consultation

1.2.1 The process

The consultation opened on 30th May 2022 and closed on 22nd August 2022 with some special exceptions due to specific circumstances. The consultation documents are available on the Scottish Government’s website, and respondents were required to answer the consultation by completing an online form on the consultation platform, Citizen Space. If for any reasons they were unable to respond online, respondents were required to send their response and the Respondent Information Form (RIF) to

1.2.2 The questions

The consultation asked 40 questions, broken down as follows:

  • Eight closed questions inviting “Yes”, “No” and “Neither agree nor disagree” responses.
  • 32 opened questions inviting free text responses with no words limit.

33 of the questions were grouped per proposal (13 proposals in total), themselves grouped under four themes (Strategic Interventions, Reduce and Reuse, Recycle and Littering and Improving Enforcement). Six questions were impact assessments (Equality, Business and regulation, Children’s Rights and Wellbeing, Islands Communities, Fairer Scotland Duty and Environment) and one question was opened for any other comments. The questions are available in Appendix 1 – Consultation Questions.

1.3 This Report

Ricardo was commissioned by the Scottish Government, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, to undertake the analysis of responses to the public consultation “Delivering Scotland’s circular economy: a consultation on proposals for a Circular Economy Bill”. The overall aim of this report is to provide a robust analysis on the responses to the consultation to inform the Circular Economy Bill, which will be laid in Parliament during this parliamentary term.

The analysis of the responses is a collation of the key feedback from respondents, both of their extended answers and also clear analysis of the response rates for the closed questions in a concise and detailed manner.



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