SCOTLAND has been ranked among the worst nations for unsustainable material consumption, according to a new report.

The Circularity Gap Report for Scotland, published by data experts from the international monitoring organisation Circle Economy, found that Scotland consumes 21.7 tonnes of material per person, per year.

This is nearly double the world average of 11.9 tonnes.

It also found that more than 98% of goods and services stem from so-called “virgin sources”, meaning that new material extraction is required to produce them.

This means that Scotland’s economy is only 1.3% circular, giving it the worst circularity score measured by the Circle Economy to date.

The Netherlands was found to be 24.5% circular and Northern Ireland 8% circular.  

A circular economy refers to reducing material consumption by reusing products rather than disposing of them after a single use.

A Scottish Government consultation on a Circular Economy Bill closed earlier this year, with the bill expected to be drafted in early 2023.

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However, Minister for Circular Economy Lorna Slater said that while the government intends to deliver a “system-wide, comprehensive vision” for a circular economy in Scotland, some key measures are reserved to the UK Government such as the reform of packaging.

The report also found in terms of extraction of materials Scotland far exceeded the UK average.

In Scotland, 22.8 tonnes of materials are extracted per person, per year. For the UK as a whole this figure is 5.5 tonnes per capita, although Scotland’s impact is largely driven up by fossil fuel extraction.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “This report shows that Scotland’s circular economy performance could hardly be any worse.

“A circular economy offers a more sustainable and fairer future for Scotland. We can reduce our climate emissions and the global ecological crisis by extracting fewer resources. We need to value materials properly, and reuse and recycle as much as possible.

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“The Scottish Government needs to be bold and decisive to create the change we need. It needs to seize the opportunity of the new circular economy law to reduce material consumption to sustainable levels, not just from the resources we extract at home but those overseas as well.”

In November, the Scottish Government published an analysis of responses to its Circular Economy Bill consultation, which showed that 86% of respondents strongly supported the proposals for ambitious consumption reduction targets.

Zero Waste Scotland, a non-profit organisation funded by the Scottish Government, recently highlighted numerous circular economy success stories within Scotland.

They included Glasgow-based company Beauty Kitchen, which cleans and reuses bottles and tubs for various beauty products like shampoo and moisturiser, and CelluComp, a company in Fife who transform nano-fibres from root vegetables into an environmentally sustainable paint thickener.