Scottish government consultation on circular economy

25th August 2015 Posted by

The Scottish Government is to be commended for opening a wide-ranging consultation on “creating a more circular economy in Scotland”, end date 30 October 2015. The consultation document Making things Last is a call for action along each of the various stages of the supply chain, starting with product design and progressing through reuse, repair, remanufacturing, recycling, recovery, and ending with landfill.

The level of ambition and the desire to develop a formal economic strategy based squarely on the circular economy concept stands in stark contrast to England’s piecemeal approach. Where England sees costs and burdens resulting from government interventions Scotland sees savings and efficiencies. The setting up of three centres deserves particular mention: a centre of expertise on circular design, a circular economy business development service, and the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing.  Especially notable is the recent Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014, backed up with statutory guidance, which will take Scotland a long way towards greening public procurement – a goal that has thus far eluded more cautious governments. England’s Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse is hamstrung through lack of funding. While repair and reuse is in the doldrums, Scotland is contemplating introducing extended producer responsibility schemes to cover tyres, furniture and mattresses.

One area of the circular economy is downplayed in the consultation – the wider aspect of resource conservation and security. Making things Last concentrates exclusively on the tail end of the economy, especially when it comes to proposing targets, metrics and indicators to measure progress. All the targets and indicators you would expect for tracking waste management performance are there. What is lacking are targets and indicators to track total resource use, conservation of natural resources (other than of peat), and resource substitution by domestically generated secondary raw materials – thereby reducing reliance on imports.

Without a national and sectoral inventory of resource inflows and outflows, supported by national resource efficiency and resource substitution indicators and targets, Scotland’s circular economy ambitions will be only partially fulfilled.

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