The Future of the Circular Economy in Scotland | Climate Emergency Series

Circular Economy represented in leaf with infinity sign

As a system, the circular economy is to ‘design waste out of the system’ and create a society where nothing is wasted and we can preserve our finite resources. It would create jobs within our communities, improve quality of life and help our economic recovery from the pandemic. To gain these benefits and reach our ambitious climate targets we must prepare for the future of the circular economy.

The Scottish Government’s recent update to the Climate Change Plan outlined a “Positive Vision” for 2045, with a wholly circular economy based on responsible production and the principles of re-use, repair and recycle.  A new route map was pledged for our transition to a circular economy post-2025, when the current strategy expires.   

The Role of the Circular Economy in Scotland’s Recovery

In Scotland, consumption accounts for over two thirds of our carbon footprint. So we could not achieve our net-zero ambitions without tackling it. Working together globally, we would tackle both the root causes and effects of climate change.

Climate change also has a crucial role to play in “building back better” from the pandemic. As well as saving our finite resources, 8% of Scotland’s jobs already relate to the circular economy and we are in a strong position to build on this further.

The Future of The Circular Economy in Scotland Conference

This event examined what the circular economy could mean for Scotland, how sectors can work together better manage our resources, and discussed the strategic challenges and opportunities ahead. It illuminated what’s next for the circular economy and how we facilitate people to live more sustainable lives in Scotland. 

We examined the effect pandemic has had on our production and consumption; how to embed circular principles in our Green Recovery and how we ensure that the waste and resources sector is able to fulfil its maximum contribution towards Scotland’s journey to net-zero.

This event is part of Holyrood’s Climate Emergency Series, held in the run to COP26. The series will engage key decision-makers and stakeholders in discussions about how Scotland can secure a net-zero through a more inclusive and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.   

Holyrood COP26 Fringe Festival

Holyrood’s COP26 Fringe events will take place over 4 days (Wed 3rd – Sat 6th November) in the centre of Glasgow, with each day exploring a different theme. The Festival is planned to take place in-person but there will also be hybrid events over the 4 days that can be joined online. Find out more about Holyrood’s COP26 Fringe Festival here.

Ray Georgeson Headshot
Ray Georgeson
Zero Waste Scotland
Christina Gaiger Headshot
Christina Gaiger
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
Joann Russell
Historic Environment Scotland
Greg Lucas
Paul Hornby
National Services Scotland
Claudia Beamish Headshot
Claudia Beamish
Scottish Labour
Shirley Rodrigues
Greater London Authority
Esther Goodwin Brown Headshot
Esther Goodwin Brown
Circle Economy
Michael Matheson MSP
The Scottish Government
Nick Ford
Scottish Government
Donald McCalman
Donald McCalman
Circularity Scotland
Dr Walter Stahel
The Product-Life Institute Geneva
David Ritchie
Scottish National Investment Bank
Alison McRae
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
Emily Gray
Ipsos Mori Scotland
Iain Gulland
Zero Waste Scotland

According to the Scottish Government, a circular economy would benefit the environment, the economy and communities. So, as we look beyond 2025 to how the waste and resources sector can contribute towards Scotland’s 2045 net-zero target through the new route map pledged in the updated Climate Change Plan, how can we ensure we are optimising the opportunities afforded by this transition for the economy and the planet? How can we ensure we are informing and engaging the public to facilitate behavioural change?

As a result of the public health crisis, there are signs there has been a necessary regression back to the single-use, disposable items in response to a contagious virus. However, a Waste and Resources Action Programme survey conducted in April 2020 suggested households in the UK were managing their food waste better than they were pre-pandemic. The changes in household behaviours, as a result of the requirement to stay and work from home, have also affected the volume and type of waste managed by Local Authority waste services.

Following on from the pandemic, the Scottish Government has pledged to embed circular principles within their wider objective of instituting a ‘Green Recovery’ as part of our transition.

In this session, we will discuss the impact of the pandemic and with recovery packages across the world amounting to £16 trillion, how intervention on this scale could change the trajectory and shape of the economy in future.

In this session, we will hear from examples of innovative best practices and centres of education and skills delivery outlining a vision of how Scotland’s circular future can be realised and the challenges in getting there can be tackled.

As centres of population, it often falls on cities and urban areas to do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to transformative social and economic change. 

The transition to the circular economy, and indeed wider delivery of net-zero objectives is no different.  One of the biggest factors in how this is delivered on the ground is how well Scotland’s centres of population – its cities – embrace the circular economy and adapt to it.  

In this session, we will look at Glasgow and London as pioneers who were out in front of national strategies as examples of best practice and discuss how cities and business can work together in collaboration to lead the way successfully towards a timely nationwide transition to a circular economy and foster behavioural change of citizens, customers and individuals

Scotland’s Deposit-Return Scheme will be fully implemented and operational by 2022.  In this session, we will hear about the delivery of this and the importance of it both in raising engagement with the public on the concept of (transitioning to) a circular economy and reducing both business and household waste sent to landfill – a key objective in the Scottish Government’s waste management strategy.

Construction and the built environment accounts for 50% of Scotland’s waste. It was one of the target sectors of the Making Things Last strategy, and retaining and retrofitting existing dwellings is significant within both the Net-Zero agenda and the recently published National Infrastructure Investment Plan.

By making use of the resources already available in our housing stock, we could significantly reduce waste and avoid the carbon emissions associated with construction. So, how can we best re-use buildings and infrastructure to optimize what we already have? And what can the historic environment teach us about creating valued and long-lasting things?

In this session, we will discuss how we can promote a more sustainable use of the existing built environment and extrapolate learnings and approaches that could be applied to other sectors.

Public sector procurement is worth £12.6bn a year. At over 10% of the entire Scottish economy, how that money is spent has the potential to drive big changes.

Indeed, the Scottish Government has now pledged to mobilise this procurement in pursuit of net-zero objectives and wider climate and circular economy objectives. It also will have established a Climate and Procurement Forum as but one policy action to help co-ordinate this.

NHS Scotland is already positively interacting with Zero Waste Scotland in terms of the use of their £2.3bn procurement budget in pursuit of the above - this session will outline best practice from Scotland and beyond.

Financial investment has helped the Scottish renewable energy sector triple in size over the last decade. To realise a Green Recovery in this unique moment in time, similar enabling policy action from Governments but also investment from the private sector is needed to deliver the industrial transformations possible and is inherent in the circular economy approach.

In this session, we will explore the opportunities for the financial services sector that investment in the circular economy can generate. We will also focus on the transformative change and multiplier growth opportunities it can bring in its wake as we pursue a Green Recovery and wider climate change goals in Scotland and the UK.

Even if the world moved completely towards clean energy largely enhanced by technological development, that would only address just over half of our emissions.  The rest of the progress has to be made by genuine systematic and behavioural change.   

In this session, we will hear from the founding father of the ‘Circular Economy’ on why it matters if we are to reach net-zero both in Scotland and globally.

    Event Details
    • Start Date
      21 Jun 2021 9:25 am
    • End Date
      21 Jun 2021 4:30 pm
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