MSPs have voted to approve Scotland’s new circular economy law!

Parliament has taken over a year to scrutinise and review the new law, and the final debate took place yesterday with amendments voted on last night.

It’s thanks to people acting collectively over the past year that Scotland has made a big step forwards towards a better, more circular, future.

When the circular economy bill was first introduced to parliament last year, it was clear, whilst some of the measures needed to make Scotland’s material use more sustainable and fairer were included, there were also some big gaps which needed to be filled. 

Now, thanks to the pressure we’ve put them under, we have a law that recognises that Scotland’s consumption of materials has significant impacts globally, and commits to urgently reducing this while ensuring that change will happen in a way that’s fair.

What we did

Over a thousand people pledged to take action to help us pressure our politicians to improve the circular economy bill and over the course of the last year, that is exactly what we did together. We raised the profile of the law and the problems with it by writing to your MSPs, sharing news on social media and taking part in events to showcase the importance of the circular economy for Scotland’s future.

In August, we hosted a webinar where we heard about the impacts of overconsumption at different stages of the supply chain, with guest speakers from Zambia with first-hand experience of the destruction, experts in the impacts of mineral mining, and the Glasgow Tool Library.

In November, we gave evidence on the bill to the Net Zero, Energy and Transport committee alongside other NGOs and wider stakeholders. To strengthen our case, many of our supporters emailed the MSPs who sit on the committee, backing up our call for change.

In February, we made sure MSPs understood the impact of our material consumption by staging a circular economy fashion show right outside parliament. This fantastic event highlighted Scotland’s problem with plastic waste, how big fashion is causing massive human rights and environmental harms and the benefits of circular economy practices to ethnic minority groups living in Scotland – and we were wowed by the creativity of everyone who was involved.

And just this month, over 600 people wrote to their MSPs to ask them to support the bill and vote in favour of the amendments which would make it better.

It was this continued call for a better future which made so many of the important changes in the bill possible. 

Improvements to the circular economy bill

The earliest version of the bill had no mention of reuse, repair or even the waste hierarchy – essential aspects of a circular economy! From Scottish workers and communities to people involved in international supply chains, it was clear the needs of people were not central enough. The Scottish Government was not using the law to commit to reducing the environmental impacts of consumption of materials and close loopholes in our existing climate targets to make them more effective.

Now, Scotland’s circular economy law includes some of the main things that the we have campaigned for since the start including a just transition for workers and communities, a commitment to the urgent need to reduce the environmental impacts of our consumption to sustainable levels and a recognition that Scotland’s consumption of materials has significant impacts internationally.

We didn’t get everything we were hoping for – there is no independent body to advise and review the Scottish Government’s progress, for example – but we’re pleased with the final law and the change that it has the potential to make. 

What happens next?

Friends of the Earth Scotland will continue to fight for the changes we need to see to create a truly fair and sustainable circular economy in Scotland as fast as possible. 

We want to say a big thank you to every one of you who have helped us take an incredibly important step on this journey. We hope you are heartened to see the difference we can make collectively.