We are in the midst of a plastic crisis. Plastic is having a devastating impact on our planet as it pollutes our streets, litters our beaches and directly harms birds and wildlife.

Plastic is also a major contributor to climate change. The more plastic we make, the more greenhouse gas emissions we release into the atmosphere. As long as we continue to make plastic from fossil fuels (which makes up 90% of plastic in the EU) then we will continue to support the oil and gas industry, adding further fuel to the global climate crisis.

In Scotland, the source of the problem is very close to home as INEOS in Grangemouth is the largest producer of plastic in the UK, and one of the largest in the EU. While global trade in plastic waste continues to be a big problem, with many people in the Global South suffering as we continue to export our plastic waste across the world.

Making progress

The good news is that the public is starting to push back with many people turning their back against the wasteful use of plastic, with inspiring communities campaigning against plastic and plastic free shops opening up all over Scotland.

The Scottish Government has already made some commitments to tackle the problem. In 2019, a ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds was introduced, and it plans to bring forward a Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans and charges for single-use disposable cups.

Plenty of work still to do

Plastic is everywhere you look so there is still a huge amount of work to be done to shift away from single-use plastics to a true circular economy. This is  where products are designed to last as long as possible, are easy to repair, and made out of materials that can be recycled.

The Scottish Government had committed to introducing a Circular Economy Bill in 2020, however that Bill along with several others was cancelled in light of coronavirus. We are now working on other ways to move Scotland towards a circular economy including the forthcoming Climate Change Plan.

Moving to a circular economy can also help us tackle the climate emergency as it’s estimated that it would save 11 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2050. That’s why we’re working to eliminate single-use plastics from our daily lives and ensure the Circular Economy Bill contains strong targets to tackle our overconsumption of resources.

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Credit: Chris Jordan

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Sign the PlasticFreeFriday Pledge to join thousands of others going plastic free on Fridays.

Together we will send a message to shops, manufacturers and government that you want action to reduce plastic waste.

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What is a circular economy?

(Government-wide Programme for a Circular Economy, Netherlands, 2016)

As consumption around the world continues to increase, there is more pressure than ever on the earth’s decreasing resources. That’s why we urgently need to transform the way we consume and manage resources in Scotland.

Learn more