By Iain Gulland

THIS week the UK is celebrating Net Zero Week – an important calendar moment highlighting the hard work already going into tackling climate change and, during which, experts are sharing advice to help us all better understand how we can make small changes that can help save the planet.

It comes at a challenging time for many of us. The energy crisis. The cost of living crisis. And, the most pressing issue of our lifetime, the climate crisis. All of these are intrinsically linked to how we live, work, and play – which is why it’s more vital than ever to talk about how we consume and how we can act now to achieve our targets for net zero while building a more prosperous economy and fairer society.

Evidence estimates around four-fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and services we manufacture, use, and throw away. Material consumption and waste are the primary drivers of nearly every environmental problem we currently face, from water scarcity to habitat and species loss.

Academics agree that a sustainable level of material use, which would still allow for a high quality of life, is around eight tonnes per person per year. But, in 2021, Zero Waste Scotland published the nation’s first ever Material Flow Accounts, which showed the average Scot consumes more than double that amount. In addition, in December 2020, The Climate Change Committee reported Scotland needed to accelerate its transition to meet its 2030 carbon target and stated that half of reductions needed to come from behaviour change—such as shifts in what we consume and how.

The evidence, and message, is clear. We need to talk about consumption, rethink our systems, and work together to consume differently.

We believe that a solution lies in moving from a linear economy to a circular one, where we design products to last and encourage reuse, repair, and recycling to reduce demand for raw materials. A circular economy will allow us to create new markets, encourages innovation, and will result in greener job opportunities. Therefore, now is a pivotal moment for Scotland.

In March 2022, the Scottish Government announced that the Circular Economy (CE) Bill was progressing with an upcoming consultation. On May 30, it launched two consultations on “delivering Scotland’s circular economy”: a consultation on proposals for a Circular Economy Bill and A Route Map to 2025 and beyond.

The CE Bill will help establish the powers and legislative framework we need to support Scotland’s transition to a zero waste and circular economy, enabling us to consume differently, use resources efficiently, and boost our economy.

As a nation, our effort in tackling the climate crisis is becoming increasingly known and celebrated across the globe – even more so after hosting the world’s most important climate conference, COP26, last year. With targets and commitments already in place, and plans to take our circular ambitions even further, the Circular Economy Bill and Route Map will help us get to where we need to be more rapidly.

We know we have a long road ahead of us, but our direction has never been clearer and our opportunity to make real change bigger than ever.

Want a simple way to play your part? You have until August 22 to have your say on the CE Bill and Route Map consultations. For more information, visit

Iain Gulland is CEO, Zero Waste Scotland