Councils need to see more investment from Holyrood ahead of the Scottish government’s Circular Economy Bill, according to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
The group has warned that improvements in recycling and resource management will be impossible if local authorities do not have the funding to transition to the new schemes which the bill will include.
COSLA’s statement comes as the Scottish government begun a consultation on its Circular Economy Bill, running until 19th December, which looks to cut waste and develop a new approach to pushing the circular economy agenda.
Councillor Steven Heddle, COSLA’s environment and economy spokesperson, noted that local government has long been committed to creating a circular economy.
He said: “In recent decades councils have invested heavily in kerbside recycling and have built up considerable expertise in making local recycling schemes work effectively.
“Whatever approach is chosen as a result of this consultation, the diverse challenges facing councils across mainland Scotland and the islands must be addressed.”
Cllr Heddle added: “Improvements in recycling figures will only happen with increased investment, which is difficult given continued pressure on local authority budgets.”
COSLA has stated that it will continue to engage with stakeholders and is looking to develop proposals that “maintain local discretion for Scotland’s councils while at the same time delivering the improvements that we all seek.”
The consultation on the Circular Economy bill was launched by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham at the University of Edinburgh, where she met the founders of coffee-ground recycling business Revive.
It asks for public and stakeholder opinions on a range of proposed policies, such as introducing charges for single-use items like coffee cups and making it mandatory to report food and business waste.
The possibility of introducing fixed penalty notices for littering from vehicles and making Scotland’s Household Recycling Charter mandatory are also discussed.
“Improvements in recycling figures will only happen with increased investment, which is difficult given continued pressure on budgets”
Commenting on the consultation, Ms Cunningham said: “A thriving circular economy presents enormous economic and industrial opportunities for Scotland, as well as significant environmental benefits.
“Responding to the global climate emergency will be a challenge for us all – be it government, business or individuals – and I would strongly encourage everyone to share their views on how we make this journey together.”
Broader view needed
As well as prompting funding concerns from councils, environmental campaigners have suggested the Circular Economy needs to be more ambitious.
Sarah Moyes – plastic and circular economy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland – described the consultation as a “welcome step” but said the final bill needed to take a broader view of the economy.
She explained: “The Scottish Government consultation raises alarm bells that the future legislation will fail to set targets for reducing our overall consumption of resources, preferring instead to focus more on behavioural changes rather than on environmentally destructive business models.
“We cannot drive the necessary transformative action towards a circular economy unless we set ambitious goals to curb our overuse of materials.”
The consultation is open until 19 December.