Safeguarding Scotland's resources: blueprint for a more resource-efficient and circular economy

Our programme to reduce waste and create a more productive and circular economy. Part of the Zero Waste agenda and economic strategy.

6. Our Actions



To help organisations and businesses across Scotland increase their competitiveness and sustainability by using raw materials, water and energy more efficiently, and generating less waste.

Why this is a priority

The estimated £2.9 billion potential savings to the Scottish economy from resource efficiency measures can help drive productivity gains and give Scottish companies a competitive advantage in the global market place.

Action 1 - Resource Efficient Scotland

Our new Resource Efficient Scotland programme brings together expertise on managing energy, water and materials costs. The new service makes it easier for businesses and organisations to access practical, on-the-ground support to use resources more efficiently making savings and improving competitiveness.

Its comprehensive advice and support service includes a helpline, web based tools, training materials, workshops and one to one on-site support.

Alongside this core service, Resource Efficient Scotland provides sector-focused activities targeting the biggest potential savings. It will help public bodies, including the Scottish Government, lead by example on resource efficiency.

And it is working to support business innovation in design of products and services for a low carbon, circular economy.

Action 2 - Voluntary agreements with business

We will work to ensure that UK wide voluntary agreements with key business sectors work well for Scotland. Existing agreements include the Courtauld Commitment [8] (supermarkets and major food & drink brands); Hospitality and Food Service Agreement [9] ; and the Federation House Commitment [10] (food & drink manufacturers).

Through Resource Efficient Scotland, we will monitor and report on progress, work to extend existing agreements to encompass energy & water use, and actively pursue new agreements.

Action 3 - Resource Efficiency Pledge

We want to see proactive companies in Scotland gain recognition through pledging their commitment to zero waste and resource efficiency.

Resource Efficient Scotland will develop a new public pledge system with a menu of actions, such as waste prevention planning, energy monitoring, staff training, adopting sustainable procurement, and reporting on achievements. Companies working with Resource Efficient Scotland will be encouraged to sign up and will be supported to take action.

Action 4 - Preventing construction wastes

Construction and demolition waste represents around 44% of total waste produced in Scotland [11] . It is estimated that the construction industry could save over £170 million a year [12] through the consistent use of Site Waste Management Plans to reduce the waste created during projects.

Resource Efficient Scotland will work with the construction industry to encourage prevention, reuse and recycling of construction wastes through:

  • seeking collective action on resource efficiency with the sector;
  • promoting good practice across the construction industry, including the use of Site Waste Management Plans;
  • building on evaluation of Site Waste Management Planning to develop and trial Resource Management Plans to encompass the design stage of construction and the wider benefits of resource efficiency.

Action 5- Better information for businesses

Resource Efficient Scotland and SEPA will work to develop data and tools to help businesses become more resource efficient:

  • We are committed to moving to electronic waste data systems which will improve data quality. SEPA is committed to supporting and promoting the use of the Electronic Duty of Care system being developed for the UK by the Environment Agency.
  • SEPA and Resource Efficient Scotland will develop tools for businesses to assess their resource use.

Action 6 - Resource Utilisation Assessments

SEPA will develop the use of Resource Utilisation Assessments for businesses with the greatest potential environmental impact. For example, through guidance, training and focus on resource utilisation during inspections - in line with the principles of better regulation.

6.2 Stimulating innovation and business opportunities


To create the business and market conditions so that innovative business can harness reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing opportunities.

Why this is important

Significant expansion in the levels of remanufacturing, and sophisticated reuse or refurbishment services, have the potential to transform our economy. The remanufacturing sector has expanded by 15% in North America in the last 2 years, and generates $11.7 billion in exports [13] . In the UK the total value of remanufacturing activities has been estimated at £2.4 billion with associated carbon savings of 10 million tonnes CO 2 equivalents per annum [14] .

Action 7- Business engagement and an early adopter network

We will work with the enterprise agencies and Resource Efficient Scotland to encourage the development of an early adopter network of companies to help share good practice. The emphasis will be on companies that have adopted innovative approaches to resource efficiency and are operating or introducing business models to enable them to retain ownership or control of their products.

This will be complimented by a wide programme of business engagement on the opportunities and barriers, to support the transition to a more circular economy which will inform development of future policy and business support.

Action 8- A loan fund to support reprocessing and remanufacturing

In 2012 we launched the Scottish Plastics Loan Fund, run by Scottish Enterprise with the support of Zero Waste Scotland, to encourage investment in recycling and reprocessing plastics. We are in the process of increasing the fund to £3.8 million and considering widening its scope to support reprocessing and remanufacturing of other materials and products, such as textiles and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.

Action 9 - Public procurement to stimulate innovation

We will gather evidence to support the smarter use of public procurement to encourage innovation and growth in refurbishment and remanufacturing. Our forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill will include powers to enable this type of action.

This is complements existing actions to:

  • roll out sustainable procurement training to over 300 key buyers across the wider public sector in Scotland;
  • embedding sustainable procurement and zero waste advice and support into The Procurement Journey (best practice guidance);
  • a Resource Efficient Scotland-led project to improve environmental performance across the Scottish Government Estate.

Action 10 - Evidence gathering

We will work with the enterprise agencies, Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA and others to better understand the full breadth of the opportunities from a deep shift towards a more circular economy - including more sustainable product design, adoption of new business models, and a significant expansion in the levels of remanufacturing and reuse services. This work will inform future policies, market development and business support work.

Action 11 - Reuse supply and demand

Zero Waste Scotland will work to increase the supply and demand for quality reusable items by:

  • Working with Local Authorities and others to support pilots of collection systems for reusable items, including recycling centres and kerbside.
  • Working with businesses to identify and stimulate development in refurbishment and repair infrastructure in Scotland'.
  • Working with the community sector to further develop the Revolve network and reuse shops.
  • Continuing to support the Reuse Hotline helping people donate items for reuse.
  • Raising awareness of households and businesses of how they can source reused items.

Action 12 - Remanufacturing and new business models

Resource Efficient Scotland will support the growth of Scotland's refurbishment and remanufacturing businesses by:

  • Investigating the role of standards and accreditation in ensuring consumer and business confidence in remanufactured products - helping develop new systems where required.
  • Supporting businesses to develop new approaches to retaining ownership or control over their products, so that they are returned without creating waste.
  • Investigating the viability of alternative business models for consumer products, which could help replace some purchases with leasing or hiring (leading to products being returned to the manufacturer).
  • Investigating the provision of a knowledge hub or centre of excellence to support the emerging remanufacturing sector in Scotland.
  • SEPA will ensure environmental regulations are applied consistently to create a level playing field and support innovation in the remanufacturing sector. SEPA will develop guidance on the regulatory requirements for remanufacturing activities.

6.3 Sustainable Product design


To stimulate innovation in the design and manufacture of products and packaging - to engender a shift towards design for longevity, reassembly or remanufacturing and useable by-products, designing out wasted energy, materials and pollution.

Why this is important

Around 80% of a product's lifetime environmental impact is decided by its design. Design determines the quantity of different materials used and how easily products can be reused, repaired or recycled. As pressures on global resources increase, it is becoming clear that certain materials are of critical importance to Scotland's economy [15] [16] .

While many products are designed and manufactured outside Scotland, we will work with Scottish manufacturers, design professions, and educators to raise awareness of this issue and "cradle to cradle" design opportunities. We will also work to raise public understanding of the importance of key resources to help consumers make more informed choices.

Action 13 - Sustainable design

We will promote sustainable design of products, including:

  • Resource Efficient Scotland support for business innovation in design of products for a low carbon, circular economy through guidance, training and events;
  • supporting the work of the Product Sustainability Forum [17] helping businesses and others work together to improve the environmental performance of products;
  • promoting the case for sustainable design in EU legislation and policies, such as the EcoDesign Directive [18] and the Eco-innovation Action Plan [19] ;
  • looking at further and higher education provision on sustainable design, both through the Green Growth Group and through research by Strategic Forum partners into Low Carbon Opportunities and Skills Implications;
  • Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA and the Enterprise Agencies will work together to examine what more can be done to increase the resource efficiency of products made or sold in Scotland.

6.4 Producer responsibility and packaging


To monitor and review producer responsibility to ensure that the systems support a deep transition in resource management across all actors in the supply chain. And to support innovation in the collection of packaging, focusing initially on deposit return and reverse vending schemes.

Why this is important

Legislation across the EU requires producers and retailers in some sectors to take responsibility for their products at the end of their use, by promoting the recycling and recovery of:

  • packaging,
  • waste electrical and electronic equipment ( WEEE),
  • end-of-life motor vehicles, and
  • batteries.

These schemes have been effective in increasing recycling rates, although they do not place as much emphasis on reducing resource use or on reuse.

Many countries run deposit return schemes which regularly achieve return rates of over 80%. Consumers pay a deposit which is returned when they return the item for reuse or recycling. Alternatively, 'reverse vending' schemes can provide an incentive for recycling certain types of containers, e.g. through money-off vouchers. Schemes of this kind directly cut the use of virgin resources by improving the level and quality of recycling and sometimes reuse. They can also have a significant impact on litter.

Action 14 - Producer responsibility for end-of-life products

To support the development of future action on producer responsibility Zero Waste Scotland will:

  • engage with retailers, manufacturers and others about how the existing UK-wide producer responsibility scheme for packaging might be cost-effectively improved to better support recycling in Scotland and explore possible alternative approaches to achieve similar outcomes;
  • look at potential to introduce producer responsibility measures for other key products considering the social, environmental and economic evidence for such actions.

Action 15 - Small waste electronic and electrical equipment ( WEEE)

Small waste electronic and electrical items contain valuable but potentially hazardous materials and can also have a high reuse value. Zero Waste Scotland and WRAP will work with Local Authorities and businesses to undertake collection trials for small WEEE, using reverse logistics and collection hubs to inform future activities.

Action 16 - Recycle and Reward schemes

Zero Waste Scotland will evaluate its 'Recycle and Reward' pilots of deposit-return and reverse vending systems

Building on the results of the pilots, the Scottish Government will work with local government, businesses and industry to examine the feasibility of a national deposit-return scheme to reduce the litter and accelerate Scotland's progress towards becoming a zero waste nation.

6.5 Understanding the movement of materials in our economy


To develop a better understanding of the movement of materials through our economy to help government, its agencies and businesses maximise the value of materials and maintain access to those materials that are critical to our economy, industry and manufacturing.

Why this is important

Many products made and consumed in Scotland contain critical materials - materials which are critical to the products we rely on which may face supply risks due to scarcity or significant price rises. A recent report identified a list of 12 materials critical to the Scottish Economy [20] , including rare earth elements, indium, lithium, copper, phosphorous and tin.

Along with these risks, come opportunities: to develop substitute materials; to design products so that materials can eventually be recovered; and to develop collection, sorting and processing infrastructure for recovery. For example, it is estimated that the UK's electrical equipment waste over the last decade contained around £5billion gold, £1billion silver and £1billion palladium, very little of which is recovered.

Action 17 - Tracking materials

Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland will work together to better understand the movement of materials, including critical materials, through our economy. Access to this information will help industry and businesses adapt early to any potential constraints and opportunities. This will build on the data work already underway as part of the Waste Data Strategy and include research to identify the materials that are critical to Scotland's key industry sectors.

6.6 Creating a culture of resource efficiency


To bring about a culture of resource efficiency at home and at work - influencing behaviour through awareness raising, education and skills development.

Why this is important

We will all need to make changes to how we use and reuse materials, both at home and at work if we are to achieve the step-change in resource efficiency we are targeting. All of the actions in this document have a role, but engagement, making change easy, and maximising the use of local authority collections are also crucial if more efficient use of resources is to become part of everyday life - a social norm.

Action 18 - Public engagement and education

Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland will target our engagement and communications to support this programme, in line with the overall approach set out in Low Carbon Scotland: A Behaviours Framework [21] - in particular behaviours on waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

We and Zero Waste Scotland will work with Education Scotland to maximise opportunities for learning and teaching about resource efficiency and the circular economy within Curriculum for Excellence and lifelong learning - building effective partnership working with Eco-Schools Scotland, John Muir Trust, Learning for Sustainability Scotland and others supporting sustainable development education.

Zero Waste Scotland and Education Scotland are also working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to build a strategic agenda for change and support professional learning programmes to ensure that practitioners have the skills, knowledge and confidence to develop effective learning and teaching approaches in relation to the circular economy.

Action 19 - Community action

Communities play a vital role in leading change. We will continue to promote community action to prevent waste through:

  • Climate Challenge Fund support for community-led waste prevention to help reduce carbon emissions.
  • Zero Waste Scotland's Volunteer and Community Advocate programme;
  • Zero Waste Scotland support for intensive approaches to community engagement, evaluating their impacts and sharing outcomes to inform future priorities. This will include a community-led demonstration project to explore how intensive engagement in a defined area can impact on recycling and waste prevention.

Action 20 - Carrier Bags

We will require retailers to charge for carrier bags from October 2014 to reduce the number of bags used in Scotland - promoting reuse and reducing litter. We will negotiate a voluntary agreement that net proceeds will be donated to good causes, a proportion of which will be for waste and litter prevention.


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