While a recent report from waste management firm Suez has expressed concern about the potential “disastrous” consequences of Brexit on the UK’s already taxed waste infrastructure system, Scotland is forging ahead with its plans to create a Zero Waste future. Late last week, MSP Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, announced the cities chosen for phase two of Zero Waste Scotland’s Zero Waste Towns project. The cities of Perth, Leith and central Edinburgh will join Dunbar and the Isle of Bute in promoting the adoption of a circular economy and zero-waste approaches.
Over the last decade, Scotland has emerged as a leader in circularity, having published a Zero Waste Plan in 2010, as well as a circular economy strategy in 2015. What’s more, earlier this year, a report from the University of Sheffield revealed that Scotland is uniquely positioned to become a global leader in the CO2 utilization market, and the Scottish government announced a new fund to accelerate its manufacturing sector’s transition to a circular economy. The Zero Waste Towns project has a considerable role to play in bringing these goals to fruition.
“Reusing and recycling more and making the most of the food we buy and grow is something we can all do to reduce waste and keep products and materials in high-value use for longer. In Scotland, we are working towards ambitious targets on waste, with 70 percent recycled or prepared for reuse by 2025 and a commitment to reduce food waste by a third by the same year,” said Cunningham.
Nearly £900,000 will be shared by the three cities to roll out new waste-reducing, resource-efficiency and consumer-engagement initiatives. Additionally, each Zero Waste city hosts its own specific activities, such as pop-up food-sharing shops in central Edinburgh; a city-wide reuse network to give retailers and residents better access to quality reuse goods in Perth; and the establishment of a Zero Waste Business Charter and collaboration with local housing associations in Leith to showcase reuse with a show home property.
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“Engaging communities in Scotland’s transition to a circular economy, where waste is eliminated and we make things last longer is absolutely essential. Only by engaging individuals at community level can we fully grasp the potential to deliver circular economy solutions in a way that maximizes social and local economic benefits. This is vital to achieving inclusive and sustainable growth for the future,” said Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland.
“Communities are right at the heart of delivering real, lasting behavior change. With their new Zero Waste Town status, these three areas will have new tools with which to build on their zero waste work — while contributing to coordinated action across the country to drive a more sustainable, circular economy.”
Edinburgh, Leith and Perth form part of a growing network of Zero Waste communities throughout Europe and across the world, including towns in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Romania. The Zero Waste Towns initiative is part of the Resource Efficiency operations of the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Program funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
“We’ve had such a positive response from the community — from businesses, community groups, schools and residents — to our plans for Zero Waste Leith. Leith is very much at their heart,” said Teresa Bray, CEO of environmental consultant Changeworks. “We’re hugely excited to be working with the Leith community to cut litter, fly tipping and food waste and improve recycling, repairing and reusing to get the most out of what we have. We’re building on what’s already happening — adding capacity, resource support and energy — to ensure Leith leads the way in becoming a new Zero Waste Town. This is a united front by businesses, community groups, schools and residents to improve quality of life and create better places to live and work.
“Our volunteers have worked hard to make Perth a vibrant place to live, work and visit for more than 20 years. We’re proud of that and very excited to be leading this new Zero Waste Perth consortium with the Council and EcoTechnic of Perth College UHI,” said John Summers OBE, Chairman of Beautiful Perth.
“We look forward to building partnerships that will encourage reuse and repair schemes, reduce waste, encourage more sharing, increase recycling, improve resource efficiency and create economic opportunities through developing the circular economy. In doing so, we hope to inspire positive changes in Perth, which will have wide-ranging social, economic and environmental benefits for everyone.”