Scottish Environment LINK – the umbrella group representing 38 green organisations wants the Scottish Government to honour the SNP’s manifesto commitment and introduce an “ambitious” Circular Economy Bill that will increase rapidly the amount of materials reused and recycled by Scottish businesses and households.
It says far more ambition is needed to extend its approach to tackle climate change, by setting tougher targets and bringing in measures to phase out specific problem materials such as polycarbonate which it says is difficult to recycle.
Polycarbonate is a plastic used in a wide variety of products, including drinks bottles, spectacle lenses, scratch-resistant coatings for mobile phones, CDs and DVDs and shatterproof windows.
They will take their plea directly to MSPs today at an event in the Scottish Parliament.
It comes as it emerged that an MSP has launched her own campaign to reduce plastic packaging in shops – taking the fight directly to the country’s major supermarkets.
Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East has written to Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – and says Waitrose having already introduced a trial period to cut down throwaway packaging.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government announced the introduction of a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, a ban on plastic cotton buds and the phase out of non-recyclable plastics by 2030.
Last month a study revealed plastic pollution in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, is much worse than previously believed.
Suzanne Grimes of the University of Dundee examined 16 coastal locations either side of the Forth estuary and retrieved a total of 20,281 pieces of plastic from a total area of just 48m2.
Some 71.51% of this pollution was in the form of nurdles, small plastic pellets that are melted down to make plastic products.
The area is home to plastics manufacturers, which Ms Grimes suggested was the result of industrial processes which was causing large numbers of these nurdles to find their way onto the shores, posing a major threat to birds and marine life.
Scottish Environment LINK says that Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) estimates suggest we are currently consuming resources as if we “had three planets, leading to environmental destruction”.
Scottish Environment LINK’s proposal aims to use SEPA’s concept of ‘One Planet Prosperity’ to create a timescale and targets to significantly reduce our use of resources.
As well as setting targets, the LINK proposals for the Bill include ensuring there is a duty on ministers to report on progress towards the its targets.
It wants a new resources reduction plan and an expert committee to provide advise for the government.
Matthew Crighton, convenor of Scottish Environment LINK Economics Group said: “We need to move rapidly to a more circular economy because the climate and ecological emergencies we face are partly driven by what and how much we consume.
“The Scottish Government’s promised Circular Economy Bill is an opportunity to set us firmly on a course towards reductions in the resources we use by keeping as much material as possible circulating in the economy, rather than chucking it out as waste.
“Our current approach where products have a short lifespan and are seen as disposable is creating mountains of waste for future generations as well as exhausting valuable natural resources.
“The move to a more circular, less wasteful economy can bring Scotland an economic boost by making businesses more efficient and delivering important social benefits such as cleaner air and water, as well as protecting our wildlife.
“Reducing waste is not only about recycling, it’s about designing a whole system so that producers of things like fridges, computers, tyres and mattresses take responsibility for what happens to them at the end of their lives. Applying the principle of Producer Responsibility would mean products are designed so they that can be easily repaired or broken down to make new products.”
Scottish Environment LINK launches its call for a Circular Economy Bill on Wednesday morning proposing that the timescale for reaching One Planet Prosperity be aligned with global zero carbon emissions targets.