Scotland sea

Scotland to bring in new Circular Economy law!

2 minute read

Last, week the Scottish Parliament passed the Circular Economy Bill.

The Circular Economy Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government in June 2023. Now that it has passed, it means the country will be getting a new law to bring us another step closer to reducing beach litter in Scotland.

Our economy is still based on what is called a linear model where we take resources from the planet, make something, use it for a short time and then throw it away. When it is thrown away it is sometimes recycled and sometimes landfilled or incinerated. Unfortunately, some of it also leaks into our natural environment and impacts our incredible Scottish wildlife and habitats as well as the stunning coastline Scotland is world renowned for.

Seascape Scotland UK Mark Kirkland

Credit: Mark Kirkland

Our Beachwatch volunteers in Scotland found, on average, 188 items of litter on surveyed beaches in 2023: a 17% increase from 2022. We need to be doing more to move to a circular economy where everything is reused, repaired or refilled and nothing is wasted or allowed to leak into the ocean.

This new law creates a framework and gives the Scottish Government the power to increase reuse and recycling rates and support the transition to a zero waste and circular economy in Scotland

Our Policy and Advocacy Manager Catherine Gemmell who has been working on this since 2019 welcomed this as a big win for Scotland's sea:

"From the amount of litter still washing up on our beaches it is clear that Scotland needs to change from being a throwaway society to one which reuses, repairs and refills instead.

With the Circular Economy Bill, introduced by the Scottish Government in June 2023 and now passed by a majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament we are another step closer to reducing beach litter."

Catherine Gemmell

With plastic and polystyrene cups recorded on 58% of beaches in Scotland in 2023, we hope to see the new Circular Economy Act enable future legislation for a charge on cups, like the carrier bag charge, along with other supportive measures to move to more reusable options.

We will be now working to make sure the Scottish Government use this new law to make some real changes to stop litter getting into the sea in the first place through strong action to move to a society which reuses, refills, and repairs.

To find out more about what we mean by a Circular Economy and what we want to see the next UK Government do, check out Catherine's blog on the circular ocean.

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