Ministers are being urged to introduce legal targets on reducing consumption as Lorna Slater prepares to take major legislation to protect the environment to a key stage in Holyrood later this week.

The call comes as Holyrood is due to debate and vote on the Circular Economy Bill on Thursday with politicians facing demands to bring in tougher measures to cut the number of items consumed in order to reduce the volume of discarded plastics and other items.

Currently, Scotland has mandatory targets to reduce domestic climate emissions, but no plan for reducing the emissions from imported goods.

Such a situation would change if consumption reduction targets were introduced as part of the new circular economy law, campaigners say.

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Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, called for MSPs to support the general principles of the bill on Thursday but to strengthen measures in the bill, including proposing legal targets on reducing consumption, as it makes its way through the Holyrood legislative process.

She said: “The new circular economy law has the potential to significantly reduce Scotland’s contribution to climate breakdown.

"At the moment, consumption is spiralling out of control, and our politicians need to grasp this opportunity for action.

“People and the environment are paying the costs of our throwaway society every day, whether that is products that break easily or precious natural resources that are being wasted. System-wide changes are needed, such as ensuring businesses pay for the clean-up of their products, increased access to reuse and repair service and standardised recycling for all.

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“We need to see MSPs from across the political spectrum coming together to support this vital law, and as the legislative process continues in the coming months, they must push it to be stronger and more effective with mandatory targets to reduce consumption.”

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Circular Communities Scotland CEO, said: “Communities in Scotland will benefit from a strong and ambitious Circular Economy Bill that addresses the twin challenges of over-consumption and the wider climate emergency.

"In addition to strong targets that will bring down consumption, politicians should ensure that they focus the Bill’s priorities further up the waste hierarchy, to reuse, repair and behaviour change activities. This will help to ensure the Bill lives up to its potential, allowing for meaningful circular change in Scotland.”

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Members of Holyrood's Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee last month welcomed the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill but found that its proposals  to reduce waste and boost recycling rates were limited in their ambitions.

Their report stated: "The measures proposed by the Scottish Government in this bill are well intended and most should have a positive impact.

"However, the Committee remains unconvinced that the bill on its own will create the systems-wide change needed in Scotland to fully close the loop. There is a heavy focus in the Bill on waste management, littering and flytipping; less so on tackling consumption and concrete measures to encourage repair and reuse."

It went on to say that the Scottish Government must consider further action and said it was "supportive in principle of statutory circular economy targets. " 

It added: "Setting targets should be an obligation, not an option. Given the importance of statutory targets as a mechanism for enacting transformative change, we recommend amendments are made at Stage specify the Scottish Ministers "must", rather than "may" create targets. The Committee further recommends timescales for the introduction of targets, proportionate with the urgency of the issue, are specified."

The committee did not specify which targets should be introduced.

Suggestions made to the committee included ones on, national reuse and repair; food waste; and • carbon and material-based consumption reduction.

The committee also recommended that Scotland should standardise household bin collections to improve recycling and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Different systems operate across 32 local authorities and a there are a wide range of recycling rates. In some places glass is picked up from the kerbside, while in others people have to travel to bottle banks.

There are also myriad different coloured bins in various local authorities, and some have at least six for people to sort waste into. This causes difficulties about how some items fit into those schemes, as well as confusion about the times when each bin is to be collected, the MSPs said.

Campaigners say: 

- 84% of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we buy

- More than half of Scotland’s emissions are due to imported goods but these are not included in the country's domestic climate targets

- Scotland consumed more than 100 million tonnes of material in 2018, which is 19 tonnes of material per person on average.

- Experts have stated that it is possible to live sustainable, high-quality lives on a material footprint of eight tonnes of materials per person per year.

Ms Slater said: “We want to create a circular economy, in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible. This is not just good for the environment – it will also create new economic opportunities and green jobs here in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill will establish the legislative framework to support that, including giving ministers the powers to introduce statutory targets that would help achieve our goals. Our proposed restrictions on the destruction of unsold goods would also help tackle unnecessary waste.”