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20/08/15 11:00

Making things last

Environment Secretary launches circular economy consultation.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has today launched a consultation on creating a more circular economy in Scotland – where products and materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible.

The consultation, which will run until the 30th October 2015, is the first step in preparing a circular economy strategy for Scotland - targeting significant potential benefits for the economy, through using resources more efficiently, creating new markets and improving resilience; for the environment, through cutting waste and carbon emissions; and for communities, with lower cost ways to access the goods we need.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

“The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes and around 30 per cent of clothing or 1.7 billion items in our wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year. The cost of this unused clothing in Scotland is around £2.5 billion.

"In a world of finite resources, where global population and consumption growth are generating volatility and vulnerability in the supply of raw materials, the circular economy approach offers a new and exciting perspective.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to making things last – whether that be designing complex products to enable remanufacture, or quite simply empowering people to repair household items instead of throwing them away, the concept makes sense for business, industry, the public sector and individuals.

“I am looking forward to hearing people’s views in shaping Scotland’s steps towards a more circular economy. It will conserve our finite resources, help support jobs in our communities, improve our quality of life, and it just makes good sense.”

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, said:

“In the 21st Century, no society producing a lot of waste will have a successful economy. This consultation opens up discussion about the way in which we maximise the value and benefits from resources, improve our approach to waste and allow Scotland to lay the foundation for a more resource efficient, circular economy. By working with the Scottish Government and others to develop this strategy, we hope it will help to highlight the true value of our resources and encourage businesses to operate in a more sustainable way.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Aiming to move away from our current ‘make, use, and dispose’ way of life, a circular economy aims to create a society where it’s easier for us all to make the most of what we have. For example, in a circular economy, the leasing, lending, and sharing of things, such as clothing, tools, and toys, could become the norm.

“Zero Waste Scotland recently asked people across Scotland for their ideas on how we could #MakeThingsLast and help end our throwaway society. It was great to see so many people get involved, and I’d urge everyone to contribute their thoughts to the Scottish Government’s consultation. This is our chance to see Scotland adopt some game-changing, and world-leading, initiatives, ultimately helping us to create a more sustainable Scotland for future generations.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director Strategy & Sectors, said:

“Scottish Enterprise welcomes the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy consultation. Moving towards a Circular Economy can offer significant benefits to companies, sectors and Scotland’s economy overall in terms of boosting productivity, innovation, job creation and economic growth. Remanufacturing, for example, is estimated to already contribute £1.1 billion to the Scottish economy, and could grow by up to an additional £620million and 5,700 jobs by 2020 if Scotland fully embraces Circular Economy principles.”

Notes to editors

The consultation can be found here:

The Scottish Government has developed its circular economy consultation by working with partners including SEPA, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, to be at the forefront of action in managing the country’s resources more effectively.

The consultation will explore the priorities for building a more circular economy – where products and materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible. It builds on Scotland’s progress in the zero waste and resource efficiency agendas, with a new focus on a much broader set of business and industry opportunities through reduced reliance on virgin materials.

The Scottish Government and its partners are proud to be at the forefront of action in managing our resources more effectively.

  • Our Zero Waste Plan, published in 2010 recognised waste as resource and set out some of the most ambitious national recycling targets globally, and was a forerunner in articulating an ambition for a zero waste society.
  • Our Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources programme in 2013 sought to drive new levels of resource efficiency within our economy, and introduced our flagship Resource Efficient Scotland service, helping businesses be more competitive by using energy, water and materials more efficiently.
  • And to reflect the integral role that material plays in our economy, Scotland’s Economic Strategy now recognises the potential benefits of a more circular approach to business, individuals and communities.
  • In the UK 93 per cent of adults own a mobile phone with 61 per cent being a smart phone. On average people upgrade their phones every 18 months, and even with some re-use happening, the average lifespan of a mobile phone is just 2-3 years.
  • And if there were take back schemes for parts which are being replaced, we could recover more of the precious metals like gold, mercury and lead that go into phones.
  • It is estimated that the average drill is only used for about 13 minutes in its lifetime. With all the valuable resources that go into it, it’s a waste that it is idle for so long.
  • The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – and around 30 per cent of clothing (1.7 billion items) in our wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year. The cost of this unused clothing in Scotland is around £2.5bn.