Black Friday: Action needed on overconsumption
Environmental campaigners have said that this Black Friday must represent the beginning of the end of Scotland’s overconsumption problem and have called on the Scottish Government to ensure its new circular economy law can bring our use of materials down to sustainable levels.
Campaigners say that changing to a more circular model of material use can ensure people can access higher quality goods that last longer and can be easily repaired. In Scotland, we consume an average of 19 tonnes of material per person per year. Experts have stated that it is possible to live sustainably and well on a material footprint of eight tonnes of materials per person per year.
Black Friday is designed to boost retailer profits rather than save consumers money, and results in rampant overconsumption of materials which is destroying the planet and pushing up climate emissions.
The consumption of materials has been linked to serious and extensive impacts across global supply chains. Mining for lithium, which is used in products with batteries like phones and laptops, has been linked to human rights abuses around the world. Currently only 1% of it is recycled.
The Circular Economy Bill, currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament, aims to change the way Scotland uses materials. Campaigners are calling on MSPs to ensure the new law reflects the true climate impact of imported goods by setting consumption targets. This would mean policies to encourage producers to make products last for longer, ensure they are easy to repair, choose lower carbon materials, and to shift consumption patterns away from carbon intensive goods and services.
Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“Black Friday is costing the Earth – literally. The damage caused by retailers trying to boost their sales on Black Friday is part of a wasteful and polluting economic system which makes profits for big businesses but is expensive for everyone else.
“Scotland’s new law to move to a circular economy is an important opportunity to improve the way we consume materials, so goods and products cost us and the planet less.
“To be as strong as possible the Circular Economy Bill must include targets to reduce Scotland’s consumption of materials to sustainable levels whilst still allowing people to live well. Scotland’s existing climate targets only cover domestic emissions, despite 58% of our carbon footprint coming from imported goods and services.
“We need the Scottish Government to have goals which reflect the full impact of the climate crisis if it is to hold big business to account and make them pay for the damage their products create.”
Targets to reduce consumption have significant public support, with 86% of respondents to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Circular Economy Bill calling for the introduction of targets.
Friends of the Earth Scotland, Unearthing Injustice report
Friends of the Earth Scotland briefing paper on the circular economy
Scottish Government’s analysis of CE Bill consultation responses