Developing Scotland's circular economy - proposals for legislation: analysis of responses

Independent analysis of responses to the “Developing Scotland’s circular economy: consultation on proposals for legislation” paper which included proposals for a circular economy bill and two secondary regulations relating to single-use carrier bags and procurement.

1 Introduction

1.1 In Autumn 2019, the Scottish Government carried out a public consultation to invite views on its proposals to develop Scotland's circular economy. This report presents an analysis of the responses received.

Policy context

1.2 A circular economy is one in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible. This contrasts with a traditional 'linear' economy which involves taking resources from the ground, air or water; making them into products and structures; then disposing of them. The Scottish Government's circular economy objectives can be summarised as:

  • Reducing waste
  • Reducing litter
  • Reducing carbon and resource footprint
  • Increasing recycling rates and quality of recyclate and
  • Maximising economic opportunities.

1.3 Circular economy policy was set out in the 2016 paper Making Things Last.[2] The approach involves a series of recycling and waste targets and implementation of a variety of initiatives, including a Food Waste Reduction Action Plan, business support through Zero Waste Scotland's Circular Economy Investment Fund and plans for a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers.

1.4 The aim of the current consultation was to develop the Scottish Government's policy proposals further, within the context of its response to the global climate emergency.

The consultation

1.5 The consultation paper, Developing Scotland's Circular Economy: Proposals for Legislation, focused on two main areas: (i) proposals to inform a Circular Economy Bill, and (ii) proposals to use existing powers more effectively through secondary legislation / regulations.[3] The consultation ran from 7 November 2019 to 19 December 2019 and invited views on legislative proposals relating to:

  • Tackling our throwaway culture (Questions 1-3)
  • Encouraging use and reuse to prevent waste (Questions 4-7)
  • Maximising the value of materials (Questions 8-12)
  • Improving enforcement, particularly in relation to littering and waste crime (Questions 13-15)
  • Secondary legislation, particularly in relation to public sector procurement practices and the (existing) single-use carrier bag charge (Questions 19-21).

1.6 A further set of questions (Questions 16-18) asked for comments about the possible impacts of the bill proposals on (i) equalities, (ii) business and regulatory issues, and (iii) the environment. A final question (Question 22) invited any other relevant comments.

1.7 The 22 numbered questions comprised 13 closed (tick-box) questions; 5 multi-part questions with both a closed and a follow-on open question; and 4 open questions with no preceding closed question. Not all of the closed questions had space for comments; however, respondents were directed to Question 22 if they wished to make any additional comments on any aspect of the consultation.

About the analysis

1.8 This report presents the analysis of the responses to the consultation. The findings are based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis, with an emphasis on the latter. The analysis explores the views of respondents on each of the issues and proposals discussed in the consultation paper.

1.9 Frequency analysis was undertaken in relation to all the closed questions in the consultation questionnaire and the results are shown in tables throughout this report. Comments made in response to each question were analysed qualitatively. The aim was to identify the main themes and the full range of views expressed in relation to each question or group of questions, and to identify and explore any areas of agreement and disagreement between different groups of respondents.

1.10 As with all consultations it is important to bear in mind that the views of those who have responded are not representative of the views of the wider population. Individuals (and organisations) who have a keen interest in a topic - and the capacity to respond - are more likely to participate in a consultation than those who do not. This self-selection means that the views of consultation participants cannot be generalised to the wider population.

1.11 For this reason, the approach to consultation analysis is primarily qualitative in nature. Its main purpose is not to identify how many people held particular views, but rather to understand the full range of views expressed.

The report

1.12 The remainder of this report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2 presents information on the respondents to the consultation and the responses submitted.
  • Chapters 3 to 9 present the results of the analysis of the responses to the consultation questions.

1.13 Annexes to the report comprise a full list of organisational respondents (Annex 1), information about a Friends of the Earth Scotland campaign which organised responses to the consultation (Annex 2) and the response rates for individual questions (Annex 3).



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