Making Things Last: a circular economy strategy for Scotland

Our circular economy strategy to build a strong economy, protect our resources and support the environment.

1. Waste Prevention

1.1 Our ambition

We want to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently in Scotland, delivering economic and environmental benefits. This principle is fundamental to all of the "loops" of the circular economy. We will focus in particular on preventing food waste and waste arising from construction and demolition.

1.2 Context

The first priority in a more circular economy is to avoid unnecessary waste and use fewer resources in the first instance. A more circular approach should therefore minimise the resources required in producing goods and services and minimise waste.

In 2013 we introduced a target to reduce Scotland's waste by 7% by 2017 from 2011 levels, 15% by 2025. [7] In the same year, we established Resource Efficient Scotland, delivered by Zero Waste Scotland, bringing together expertise and advice on energy, materials and water. This service helps businesses and organisations access support to use resources more efficiently.

In particular, tackling food waste is important in Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation [8] , in reducing environmental impact of food consumption and production in tackling climate change and in enhancing the productivity of Scotland's Food & Drink manufacturing sector [9] .

Construction and demolition waste represents about 50% of all waste in Scotland and influencing the built environment has a significant impact on wider resource efficiency. The construction sector is our biggest user of materials and responsible for over half of our carbon emissions when the operation of buildings is included. This requires influencing not just new build and end of life stages but also maintenance, renovation, and expansion of existing building stock.

All of the priorities in chapters covering loops of the circular economy (design, reuse, repair and remanufacture) will also contribute to waste prevention, helping to decouple resource use from economic growth.

This strategy brings together in one place the targets and ambitions in our 2013 waste prevention plan, "Safeguarding Scotland's Resources" and in the 2010 Zero Waste Plan, placing both in the context of a more circular economy.

1.3 Priorities

We will continue to work towards our waste reduction targets.

We will influence UK wide voluntary agreements with key business sectors, such as the Courtauld Commitment [10] , to ensure that they deliver for Scotland, in particular in relation to food waste.

We will introduce a new Scottish food waste reduction target: "To reduce all food waste arising in Scotland by 33% by 2025 and work with industry to reduce on-farm losses of edible produce". This target, one of the most ambitious in the world, will put Scotland on a path to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 target related to food waste.

We will work with a variety of stakeholders to identify a package of actions to deliver these food waste reductions, and we will consult on whether the target will be voluntary or binding.

As an early step, Resource Efficient Scotland will support SMEs to both prevent food waste, and adapt to the new 5kg threshold for separate food waste which came into force in January 2016.

We will investigate the potential to develop supporting indicators to assess progress on the food waste reduction target:

  • Carbon savings from solid and liquid waste;
  • Reduction in tonnes of on-farm losses of edible produce; and
  • Financial savings.

We will work with the construction sector to ensure building designs consider waste reduction in both new build and refurbishment, while also enabling more reuse and recycling at end of life.

This will include supporting SMEs to deliver building projects with the potential to deliver significant impact that can be scaled up and repeated.

We will also build capacity to deliver change in the construction sector in collaboration with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and other partners.

We will work to avoid depletion of primary aggregates and timber resources through enhanced recycling of demolition materials.

Good to Go Doggy Bag Scheme Tackles Food Waste

A hugely successful pilot scheme to offer diners doggy bags is being extended across Scotland.

The 16 restaurants that took part in the Good to Go trial saw dramatic reductions in food waste from customers' plates - an average of 42 per cent per restaurant. And 92 per cent of diners surveyed who took food home ate it.

Customers at participating restaurants were offered re-sealable take-home containers featuring the 'Good to Go' brand to provide an attractive, visible and convenient way to ensure they were able to enjoy all of the meal that they had paid for, even if they couldn't manage it all in one sitting. These are boxes made from sustainable board with a natural starch lining - making the box fully compostable.

If restaurants across Scotland routinely offered doggy bags to customers, it could save the equivalent of 800,000 full meals going in the bin every year. Eateries across the country are now being urged to sign up for Good to Go.

Eleanor Cunningham from the Edinburgh Larder Bistro, which took part in the pilot, said, "As well as helping us to reduce the amount of food being thrown away, we've also had a great response from our customers to the 'Good to Go' trial, who were keen to take home what they couldn't eat for later. It's therefore great to see the scheme being offered across Scotland, and I would encourage other restaurants to sign up."

Good to Go Doggy Bag Scheme Tackles Food Waste


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