Four fifths of our carbon footprint is down to our ‘consumption habit’

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland (Photo: Mark F Gibson)
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland (Photo: Mark F Gibson)

Businesses that don’t act now to meet growing public pressure to tackle the global climate emergency risk being left behind.

That’s the warning from Zero Waste Scotland which says organisations must do more and examine how they produce, consume and dispose of everyday items just to stay in the race – and urges them to embrace the circular economy.

Zero Waste Scotland stresses firms achieving a more sustainable way of working would deliver huge results in cutting Scotland’s carbon footprint.

This is because four fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint is generated through the heat and energy required to grow, make, process, transport and provide materials that are often tossed aside at the end of their life.

Only by considering how to make products with less reliance on raw materials, and by remaking items at the end of their original life into goods that can be used time and again, will businesses be able to significantly reduce global emissions.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, who launched the organisation’s corporate plan before an auduence of business leaders last week, said: “We must radically change the way we think about and consume our goods and materials, and we must do that now.”

“Too many businesses assume that reducing the cost to the planet means increasing costs for them.

“But as we have and will continue to make clear, the opportunities are plentiful, with massive savings to be made.

“The current way of working cannot continue in the years ahead and successfully adopting a circular economy approach is the only long-term option.”

Everything has value and in a circular economy nothing should be wasted. In simple terms, it can be explained as ‘make, use, remake’ as opposed to ‘make, use, dispose’.

The ultimate goal is to maintain and improve our quality of life, while simultaneously reducing our material consumption and, by extension, our impact on the planet.

Mr Gulland added: “Many Scottish firms are already leading the way, with our help, changing how they design and trade goods to keep materials in use for as long as possible to maximise their value.

“Successful circular economy enterprises range from refurbishing computers and upcycling furniture to producing sustainable animal feed using waste generated by our world-famous whisky industry.”

Zero Waste Scotland estimates that the circular economy would save Scottish businesses collectively at least £3 billion every year through benefits including the creation of longer-lasting relationships with customers, as firms switch from a model centred on simply selling products to providing products as services.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We should not underestimate our achievements to date in tackling climate change – we have already almost halved emissions since 1990.

“We cannot, however, be complacent. More action is needed to respond to the global climate emergency and show Scotland as the responsible, progressive, and ambitious country that it is.”