Iain Gulland, Executive Director and CEO of Zero Waste Scotland, explains how Scotland is harnessing the pandemic’s effect on waste behavior.
If COP26 and the response to what it has achieved has shown us anything, it is that we cannot stand still in our efforts to move to a more circular, low-carbon economy, using more energy-efficient ways. much more productive the materials we all need in our daily lives. Improving the recycling services available to all households is at the heart of this, a key element of a functioning circular economy.
The pandemic has brought a lot to the fore. One of these well-documented trends is the renewed public interest in environmental issues at the local level exemplified by our recycling services. Zero Waste Scotland’s own poll highlighted these trends and indicated that people were recycling at least as much as before the pandemic and wanted to do more.
In our survey of 1,000 Scots earlier this year, 46% said they had become more concerned about the environment since the start of the pandemic, and 92% said they recycle as much or more than before. The main reasons given for recycling more included an increased amount of materials to be recycled since the start of the pandemic and having more time at home than before.
So now was the perfect time for the Scottish Government to present the biggest investment in Scottish recycling services in a generation, the £ 70million Recycling Improvement Fund, launched in March. This week in Scotland, we took an important step for the fund, with the presentation of the first prizes.
The first offers selected bear witness to innovative thinking by local authorities, guided by the Domestic Recycling Charter and concerned with the types of measures that are part of the overall transition to a more circular economy. The winning bids will save carbon and help Scotland travel to meet not only its recycling, but also its climate change commitments.
These include a mattress reuse program in North Ayrshire, new plastic film recycling facilities in Fife, more Recycle-on-the-Go bins in South Ayrshire and brand new Romaquip vehicles – which can collect all materials, including food waste, maximizing efficiency and recycling potential – as part of East Lothian’s new fully Charter-compliant sidewalk service.
A total of seven bids have been approved so far (with projects also given the green light in Highland, Aberdeenshire and Midlothian) worth a total of £ 7.1million.
Part of the Scottish Government’s Agenda for Government, the fund aims to accelerate progress towards Scotland’s ambitious waste and recycling targets and its net zero commitment while opening up specific national circular economy opportunities and local.
It does this by encouraging innovation and supporting new infrastructure that will bring about a radical change in both the quantity and quality of materials collected for reuse in Scotland.
My team at Zero Waste Scotland, who administer the fund on behalf of the government and CoSLA, were delighted to see the fruit of the hard work and strategic thinking of this group of boards, as well as additional offers that we hope will be approved. soon.
And we continue to innovate ourselves, building on how the fund’s first year worked, to refine the application process for years to come, providing additional support to boards to ensure their best ideas get the most out of them. likely to be Successful. We also want to encourage partnership between local authorities, and with the private and third sectors, to unleash more innovation and efficiency. Only by working together can we meet the significant environmental challenges we face.
More information about the fund and a full list of successful projects can be found here.