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SCDI Forum Partner Blog: Zero Waste Scotland

By Iain Gulland, Chief Executive at Zero Waste Scotland

In Scotland, and around the world, it’s well known that our current way of living is unsustainable. We are burning through resources, both figuratively and literally, faster than ever before and living beyond our means.

Whilst there has been a focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels in our energy and transport systems it’s our relentless consumption of materials and products that is having the most significant impact on both the climate and biodiversity crisis both here in Scotland and beyond.

Our recent Material Flow Accounts report showed the average Scot consumes 18.4 tonnes of materials every year – double the sustainable level that would still allow a high quality of life.

Zero Waste Scotland knows that a circular economy is a vital part of the solution in tackling this. Through it, we can maximise value from the goods we already have in circulation, while relieving pressure on finite natural materials.

Moving away from the linear economy will require a joint effort from all sectors – from individuals to industry and governments. The current systems and financial mechanisms that are in place serve a ‘use, make, dispose’ model, which is damaging the planet.

Embedding a circular economy promotes innovative performance or usage-based business models, that focus on access to services and products, rather than ownership. It’s all about making the right choices early in the design stage, so that materials and components are suitable, at end-of-life, for repair or refurbishment and re-use, thereby helping to close the materials loop.

It adds value in other ways too by extending and intensifying long-term business relationships with suppliers and customers. Creating resilience and more local value chains thus stimulating greater economic and social impact through jobs and community well-being.

The circular economy isn’t just right for the planet it’s also right for our people and it’s also right for our future.