Building our circular economy in Midlothian and beyond

Monday May 16th 2022


Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

With Greens in government we are introducing the big changes that our country and our environment need if we are to reduce our waste, cut carbon emissions and build our circular economy.

One of the first things I did following my appointment as a Minister was to commission an independent review into the role of incineration in Scotland.

Last week that review was published. It was a really robust piece of work that made a series of very useful recommendations, among which was that no further planning permission should be granted for new incinerators.

I will provide a full response to it in June on behalf of the Scottish Government, but, in the meantime, what it made clear is that, regardless of the role of incineration, we need to increase reuse and recycling if we are to hit our ambitious net-zero targets.

We took another important step closer towards meeting those targets last week. I was delighted to announce that funding has been secured for the world-leading Deposit Return Scheme that we are introducing.

The scheme, which will begin next August, will help us to recycle billions of bottles and cans every year. It will be the first scheme of its kind anywhere in the UK, and one of the most environmentally ambitious and accessible in Europe.

It will complement our incoming ban on the worst single-use plastics. The ban, which will come into force next month, will curb the use of cups made from polystyrene and other plastic items that pollute our waters and litter our streets.

All these changes are part of developing what is known as a circular economy. What this means is an economy based on re-use and sharing, the elimination of waste, and ensuring that things are built to last.

It’s vital that we make the shift. The stark reality is that around three quarters of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we manufacture, use and throw away. This isn’t sustainable.

There are positive things that we can all do as individuals that can make a difference to us and the people around us. But a commitment to waste reduction doesn’t just need us to make better consumer choices, it also needs meaningful action from businesses and governments.

That is why, as part of a Circular Economy Bill that I will be taking through Parliament, we will aim to ban the destruction of unsold goods and make sure they make it into the hands of those that need them.

This is something all countries could be doing. In fact, some already are.

In 2020, Germany was the first European country to introduce blocks on the destruction of returns and excess goods. Since then, France has also introduced curbs on companies destroying clothes, cosmetics, hygiene products and electrical items.

These are just some of the steps that we are taking to reduce waste, create cleaner streets and build our circular economy in Midlothian and beyond. The scale and ambition of the changes we are making has to match the urgency of the climate crisis we are facing.

We are doing everything we can to meet the challenge. We are building a fairer, greener Scotland and a circular economy that works for people and the planet.

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