Governments Going Circular – Global Scan Best Practices
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0 % read case Zero Waste Plan of Scotland

Policy areas

Resources Resources
Waste Waste

Govermental instruments

Laws & Regulation Laws & Regulation
Partnerships Partnerships
Subsidies Subsidies

Business models

Resource Loops Resource Loops
Product Life Extension Product Life Extension
Circular Marketing Circular Marketing


National National

Key facts & Impacts

  • The overall program budget for 2011-12 was £25 million
  • Achieved a household waste recycling rate of 42,2%
  • 2025 target is to have 70% recycled, and a maximum 5% sent to landfill
  • 100% of energy production from renewables by 2020


To achieve a waste free Scotland


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For more information

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Zero Waste Plan of Scotland United_Kingdom.png

The Zero Waste Plan (ZWP) aims to achieve a zero waste society in Scotland, where efficient use of resources is made by minimising demand on primary resources, and maximising the reuse, recycling and recovery of resources instead of treating them as waste. The government provides financial support, a delivery body and  also shapes the supportive legal framework.

What does it involve?
By publishing the Zero Waste Plan in June 2010, the Scottish government committed itself to shifting towards a more resource efficient economy by reducing resource use, improving the efficiency rates and preventing waste. The ZWP aims to ‘push’ waste up the  waste hierarchy  towards prevention, so that a greater amount of resources retain maximum value and are kept circulated within the economy, rather than exiting it. Accordingly, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), a not for profit company, was established to support the delivery of the plan and other low carbon and resource efficiency policy priorities. The company is principally funded by the Scottish government although it also receives European funds. In addition to providing funds, the Scottish government is involved in the regulation and implementation of the policy. Some examples include: the regulation of landfill bans for certain materials to encourage their prevention and reuse/recycling; the legal requirement for businesses to separate waste materials for recycling, including food waste; landfill tax on waste sent to landfill (under the responsibility of the Scottish government from April 2015); and action in other areas such as national education and awareness campaigns. ZWS on the other hand, is more focussed on operational activities such as: technical advice and funding to support stakeholders and businesses; providing tools, templates and advice to consumers and industries; and training opportunities for businesses and local authorities. These activities are supplemented by ZWS working to assist the government by providing evidence-based research and technical advice to support policy development.

Status quo
The Zero Waste plan was published in 2010 and the main actions have now been implemented. However, some targets are up to 2025 and a ‘daughter’ programme – Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources – was published in October 2013 and this focused on new actions to create a more resource efficient and circular economy. In addition, the fourth ZWS Delivery Plan for 2014-2015 includes a range of supporting targets and actions. These actions focus on a wide range of stakeholders such as  national and local governments, consumers, business, and  the  third sector. In the 2014-2015 year, ZWS has a £10 million budget for grant support to stakeholders that contribute to the goal of a zero waste Scotland or a more Circular Economy. The plan itself plays an important role in meeting national and EU legislated waste reduction and climate change targets in a consolidated and integrated way. At the same time, it provides assurance and confidence to investors, and encourages economic growth by providing the support, resources and institutional commitment needed to seize economic opportunities inherent in circular economic models.

Scotland has realised the benefits of being a frontrunner in waste reduction and the government has consistently supported local authorities to drive up recycling rates. This ambition for a Zero Waste society has now evolved into strong support for a Circular Economy. A Circular Economy model has the potential to reprocess resources already in Scotland, thus creating new jobs and industries. The Scottish experience with more and more initiatives supporting the circular economy demonstrates the crucial role of government leadership.  


Circular ladder

This Circularity Ladder presents economic activities with an increasing ‘degree of circularity’. When looking at the six circular business models we see two important things. First, some business models are able to achieve a higher degree of circularity than others. For example, a Sharing Platform does not directly lead to refurbishment (it is possible), but Product Life Extension does.

Second, all business models fall apart in different activities, of which again some activities are able to achieve higher degrees of circularity than others. For example, the Product Life Extension may involve maintenance, repair, reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing. However, maintaining a product has more potential for resource efficiency than remanufacturing.