Reduce consumption and waste by embracing society wide resource management and reuse practices.

Scotland’s statutory emissions reduction targets are based on emissions from sources located here in Scotland. According to a report from Zero Waste Scotland, consumption of products and materials accounts for an estimated 74% of Scotland’s carbon footprint, making tackling consumption and waste a crucial part of our action on climate change.

The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to take action on reducing waste and supporting initiatives that seek to encourage reuse and recycling of products wherever possible. We will do this through a number of initiatives including a ban on some of the most problematic single-use plastic items, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation and our new commitment to provide support to a network of sharing libraries across Scotland. Through our work on a Circular Economy Bill we are investigating how further reuse and repairs could be encouraged and incentivised, and will ensure the Assembly’s recommendations are considered as part of this.

Following analysis of the Assembly’s recommendations, the Scottish Government will take the following actions:

  • Regulations to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastic items will come into force on 1 June 2022.
  • Based on new research from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), we will explore how reducing both packaging and food waste can be achieved, taking account of the Assembly’s recommendation as we develop policy.
  • We will bring forward a Circular Economy Bill and consider the Assembly’s recommendations as part of this.
  • We will legislate for an EPR system for packaging in partnership with other UK administrations, and will consider the inclusion of lifetime product emissions as recommended by the Assembly.
  • We will help fund a new national network of community sharing libraries and repair cafes across Scotland.

Recommendation 1: Support Sustainable Manufacturing

Strategically support the development of new manufacturing businesses in Scotland that are innovating in low carbon, high quality, built to last, product design.

Children’s Parliament: Speak and listen to all the people who grow, make, produce and sell things in Scotland. This is to understand what help they need to make their businesses better for the environment.

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports the recommendation and call to action to support the development of new manufacturing businesses in Scotland that are innovating in low carbon, high quality, built to last, product design.

 

We have an integrated programme of support called ‘Making Scotland’s Future’, which brings together our partners across the support landscape for manufacturing in Scotland. This is intended to deliver a more collaborative and joined up approach to supporting the sector. The Programme has specific objectives across eight workstreams, each of which have Low Carbon and Sustainability at their heart. We aim to boost productivity; drive innovation; and develop the skills of our current and future workforce to ensure Scotland is world-renowned for our manufacturing capabilities.

Central to the success of this programme is investment in a range of support measures:

  • The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS);
  • The Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP);
  • The Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS);
  • The Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF); and
  • The Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund (LCMCF).

The latter specifically recognises the need to support manufacturers as recommended by the Assembly. Announced in the 2020 Programme for Government, it will support innovation in low carbon technology, processes and infrastructure through the allocation of £26 million of funding. It will be designed to build on Scotland’s existing expertise, encouraging partnerships to come forward with bids that will encourage the adoption or development of low carbon technologies or processes. By making the Fund competitive we will drive up project standards and the need for collaboration. The Fund will be open to any business in the manufacturing sector and provide research and development funding for projects that result in increased product circularity, reduced waste during the manufacturing process and reduced carbon. We are also particularly proud to be sponsoring a low carbon CivTech challenge for the sector which targets a technological solution to help manufacturing businesses decarbonise, while building resilience and strengthening competitive advantage. That process is currently working towards a minimum viable product (MVP). Whilst it is early in the process and there is substantial development work to be done, the Scottish Government and its Programme partners will work closely with the shortlisted company to maximise the opportunity for success.

NMIS, supported by our investment of £75 million, will also play a crucial role in supporting the just transition to low carbon markets for the manufacturing sector in Scotland. Recognising that 97% of the sector in Scotland are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), NMIS has dedicated SME business engagement advisers who will work directly with companies on their innovation needs.

SMAS’ 25 practitioners are also available across all of Scotland to support continuous improvement and efficiency, whilst the AMCF’s 12 projects provide free support to SMEs across the country in technology and skills interventions.

NMIS has specific research and industrial capability in a number of emerging markets vital to the low carbon transition including lightweighting, re-manufacturing and digitisation. The MSIP in Dundee also has ambitions to be a global reference for collaboration in sustainable mobility and decarbonisation. Its clear focus is matched with a strong offer including space to manufacture and innovate; business, skills and innovation support; and access to green energy from sustainable sources.

In summary, we share the Assembly’s desire for innovation, circularity, skills development and SME support within the manufacturing sector. We remain committed to building and developing the infrastructure and expertise to support businesses to achieve these goals.


Recommendation 2: Ban Single Use Packaging

Reduce plastic and electronic waste by banning the use of single-use plastics (unless there is no viable alternative) and increasing regulation to prevent the supply of products in non-recyclable packaging and to stop retailers providing plastic bags to customers.

Children’s Parliament: Ban plastic packaging and single-use plastic (especially cutlery, bottles and plastic bags).

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation from the Assembly and Children’s Parliament to reduce plastic and electronic waste. We have laid Regulations before Parliament that ban some of the most problematic single-use plastic products.

 

The Scottish Government is committed to matching and where possible exceeding the standards set out by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive. Earlier this year, draft Regulations proposing market restrictions (effectively a ban) on some of the most problematic single-use plastics were made available for public comment. The Regulations, covering expanded polystyrene beverage cups, expanded polystyrene food containers, single-use plastic beverage stirrers, plastic cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and plastic plates have now been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 1 June 2022. We also intend to explore further market restrictions on a wider range of items.

To reduce the supply of products in non-recyclable packaging, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) creates a financial incentive to increase recyclability and encourage design for reuse and long life. We will legislate for an EPR system for packaging in partnership with the UK Government and other devolved administrations, with further schemes being developed for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and batteries. The system will fund end-of-life management, and by applying a cost burden to producers will encourage them to improve environmental performance. Eco-modulation of fees will incentivise producers to integrate increased product longevity, design for re-use and recyclability.

In addition to our single-use plastics ban and work on EPR, we are committed to reducing and where possible, eliminating, the use of unnecessary plastics elsewhere. We are encouraging the UK Government to introduce a ban on wet wipes containing plastic, building on the voluntary Water UK ‘Fine to Flush’ Certification, to stop the use of plastic as an ingredient and support design for easy disintegration in the sewage system. We have introduced legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. We continue to promote behaviour change by encouraging new parents to try reusable nappies through discounts and incentives included in our Baby Boxes.

Our 2019 Trial Period campaign in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland helped to promote the use of reusable period products. In addition, the Guidance we have published for bodies with responsibilities under the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 sets out an expectation that these bodies should make at least one type of reusable period product available for free under their duties. It also asks them to consider making sustainable or plastic-free products available as part of the choice of products.


Recommendation 3: Food Packaging

Reduce food waste by increasing public pressure and regulation on supermarkets (and other outlets) to change how fruit, vegetables and other perishable products are packaged, so that people can buy only the amount they need.

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports the principle of the Assembly’s recommendation to reduce food waste including by changing how products are packaged. We will explore how reducing both packaging and food waste can be achieved, taking account of the Assembly’s recommendation as we develop policy.

 

We are exploring how reducing both packaging and food waste can be achieved. Recent research has identified that the balance of impact will vary according to different product types, store management and home storage behaviour. Re-usable airtight containers could offer similar benefits to single use plastic bags, and plastic free packaging, such as recycled paper pulp, can also be utilised. Further work is needed to fully quantify wastage rates of pre-packaged versus loose fruit and vegetables (in-store and at home), as well as the food waste implications of alternative approaches.

The Scottish Government is a signatory to the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP’s) UK-wide Courtauld commitment on food waste reduction. WRAP is currently conducting new research on household food waste and packed and loose uncut fresh produce, including: consumer research; laboratory assessments of product life; and modelling impacts. The results of this new research will be published in 2022, with recommendations about selling loose as well as for date labels and storage advice. We will also legislate for an EPR system for packaging in partnership with other UK administrations. EPR places obligations on producers to ensure material is managed properly at end-of life and is a potent tool to change habits of production and consumption. It incentivises further benefits such as increased recyclability and reduced packaging.


Recommendation 4: National Reuse Charter

Introduce a National Reuse Charter to establish; best practice standards and targets; timetables for implementation; and reporting mechanisms, in order for Local Authorities to transform recycling centres into reuse centres where items can be repurposed by skilled workers, and allocate funding equal to the National Recycling Charter (£70 million) to provide for implementation.

Children’s Parliament: Improve recycling in Scotland. This would include having more recycling points, even for things like clothes and toys, and having better, fun instructions for everyone to follow.

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government support the principle of the Assembly’s recommendation for a National Reuse Charter.

 

The Scottish Government is committed to building a fully circular economy as part of our work to tackle the climate emergency. We know reuse has a big part to play as part of Scotland’s circular economy, where we reduce the demand for raw material in products; encourage reuse and repairs through responsible production; and recycle waste and energy to maximise the value of any waste that is generated.

With this in mind, we welcome the Assembly’s focus on what more can be done to encourage reuse, and can confirm that we are actively delivering several initiatives that align with the recommendation to promote and embed reuse across Scotland. We also welcome the Children’s Parliament’s focus on what more can be done to encourage recycling.

Firstly, the existing Scottish Household Recycling Charter has been designed to cover and encourage reuse. By signing up to the Charter, 31 of 32 Scottish Local authorities have directly committed to an intent to provide services that deliver local and national benefits, and to encourage citizens to participate in reuse services to ensure that they are fully utilised. The Charter’s associated Code of Practice includes specific best practice recommendations for encouraging reuse.

Our Programme for Government 2020-21 committed to evaluate the Household Recycling Charter with COSLA, and review its Code of Practice to ensure it reflects current best practice and makes it easier for households to recycle and reuse. This is a key step in developing a future model of recycling collections and reuse services.

As the Assembly has noted, we have also launched our £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund. One of the underpinning objectives of this Fund is to support initiatives that tackle our throwaway culture, encourage a circular economy, and provide enhanced opportunities to reuse.

In November, we made our first investments through the Fund, with over £7.1 million awarded to local authorities to increase the quantity and quality of recycling. In line with the Assembly’s recommendation, this landmark investment included funding for one council to extend reuse services at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs), and facilitated a new initiative to reuse bed mattresses in partnership with a third sector reuse partner.

This marks the beginning of one of the biggest investments in recycling and reuse in Scotland in a generation, and we continue to work with all partners to bring forward further bold ideas for future funding to make sure that our infrastructure supports increased reuse, and the delivery of a truly circular economy in Scotland.

Finally, through our work to bring forward a Circular Economy Bill and develop a route map to achieving our waste and recycling targets to 2025 and beyond, we are investigating how further reuse and repairs could be encouraged and incentivised, including through more responsible production as part of our transition to a fully circular economy in Scotland. We will ensure that the Assembly’s recommendation and children’s call to action is considered carefully as part of this work.


Recommendation 5: Extended Producer Responsibility Legislation

Introduce Extended Producer Responsibility Legislation to regulate product design e.g. materials, production processes, so that the full costs of lifetime product emissions and disposal/repurposing are included in the price - including imported products.

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and will legislate for an Extended Producer Responsibility system for packaging in partnership with other UK administrations. As the system develops, we will consider the inclusion of lifetime product emissions as recommended by the Assembly.

 

EPR is a potent tool to change our habits of production and consumption. EPR incentivises further benefits, such as increased recyclability and design for reuse and long life. The Scottish Government is working closely with the UK Government and other devolved administrations on the introduction of an EPR scheme for packaging, with further schemes being developed for WEEE and batteries.

An EPR approach could be applied to a range of products, and others being actively considered include textiles, mattresses and bulky waste. The system will fund end-of-life management, and by applying a cost burden to producers will encourage them to improve environmental performance. Eco-modulation of fees will incentivise producers to integrate increased product longevity, design for re-use and recyclability.

We have pursued a UK-wide approach to reflect our integrated supply chain. This approach will have significantly higher impacts, and will help with imports and ensure a consistent labelling approach.


Recommendation 6: Resource Libraries

Provide government support to Local Authorities to establish a network of ‘Resource Libraries’ across the country, where people can ‘borrow’ high quality tools and equipment that are maintained and repaired by the library, rather than buying seldom used items themselves.

Children’s Parliament: Create sharing libraries in communities for toys, clothes, food, tools, books…and more!

 

Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports the recommendation from the Assembly and Children’s Parliament to establish a network of ‘Resource Libraries’ across the country.

 

A 2020 survey identified 24 repair cafe and sharing library projects already in operation across Scotland. Through a new initiative established in response to the Assembly’s recommendation, the Scottish Government aims to increase this number to 100 over the next three years. The reuse and repair scheme, supported by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland, will enable people to borrow items such as high quality tools, equipment, clothes and toys rather than buying these items themselves. This is a vital step in the Scottish Government’s efforts to reduce consumption and cut waste.

The scheme will be overseen by Circular Communities Scotland (formerly Community Resources Network Scotland, a key contributor to the Assembly’s evidence base), in collaboration with the Edinburgh Tool Library and Edinburgh Remakery. Other partnerships may include working with local authorities and housing associations. In addition to resource libraries, the scheme will support the establishment of repair cafes, where people can learn how to repair existing items rather than replacing them with something new.

New and existing sharing libraries and repair schemes will be able to access a range of support to set up, meet standards, train staff, mentor new projects and establish relationships with local authorities and housing associations. The network will also encourage groups to share donations. For example, Edinburgh Tool Library is due to receive 450 tools from a local housing association and provides regular support to other tool libraries across the UK.

Case Study: Edinburgh Tool Library

The Edinburgh Tool Library is a charity that shares donated equipment to avoid the unnecessary manufacture of seldom used tools. This saves their members money, reduces their carbon footprint, and supports them to develop valuable new skills. Since they opened in 2015, they have saved their membership over £1.3 million on tools and reduced their carbon footprint by 160 tonnes through sharing rather than consumption. They believe in access over excess.

As well as their two libraries of DIY, gardening, and repair tools, they also have two wood workshops where members access reclaimed materials, gain confidence in using tools and machinery, and become a community. Their outreach programmes work with other diverse charities, from women's support groups to refugees, and young to older makers. Their large volunteer base contributes to communities across the city through volunteer build weekends, and place-based projects for other charities and community groups.

 

Photo © The Edinburgh Tool Library

Photo of Edinburgh Tool Library