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Glasgow Chamber of Commerce responds to the Circular Economy Bill consultation

31st December 2019 

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has cautioned that Scottish Government plans to introduce circularity legislation to cut litter and waste must avoid placing unnecessary cost burdens on business. Rather the delivery of environmentally focused policy interventions should be progressed in parallel with achieving sustainable economic growth and should avoid “unintended consequences of policy on the business community”.

The points were made in the Chamber’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its Circularity Bill, which forms part of a new approach to reducing, reusing and recycling materials to help drive Scotland’s circular economy.

While welcoming the Bill’s aspirations, the Chamber says it is “not entirely convinced that the proposal for legislation, as it stands, is suitably ambitious, strategic, or creates an early mover advantage for Scotland’s economy.”

The submission states:

“We support Scottish Government aspirations to bring forward a Circular Economy Bill to support climate change targets.

“As the legislation is at an early stage, we will seek engagement opportunities throughout the consultation and parliament scrutiny process. We seek to ensure that the legislation is suitably ambitious, strategic, and creates an early mover advantage for Scotland but does not create unnecessary additional burdens on business.

“The need to deliver environmental focused policy interventions should be delivered in parallel with achieving sustainable economic growth, and a vibrant and successful business community.

“We would not support responses to overcome climate change focused on displacing activity or incurring additional cost, whether through taxation or additional regulation.”

It adds: “We start from a position of support for policies which deliver environmental improvements in parallel with sustainable economic growth. Therefore, we are particularly interested in Circularity as a model due to its potential to deliver on these aims. It goes far beyond measures to overcome climate change that simply displace activity or place additional cost on businesses and consumers.”

The Chamber says the Glasgow Economic Strategy already recognises aspirations to develop a strong circular economy and that over the past five years, Glasgow has consistently ranked amongst the top 100 most innovative cities in the world with a level of low carbon technology companies is well above global averages.

It proposes that the Circular Economy Bill should encourage collaboration and partnership working at a city and national level to help businesses and their supply chains implement sustainable change and believes that the adoption of circular methods will drive companies to invest – with more young talent drawn to live and work in cities which demonstrate their commitment to tackling climate change.

The Chamber believes the global climate change conference COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November 2020, is an opportunity for the city to showcase on a world stage the progress being made in sustainability.

It says genuine circular economy is one in which every product is created with the intent of zero waste, ensuring all raw materials can be recycled or upgraded to extract every possible usable element to maximum value.  It recognises an opportunity for the Circular Economy Bill to be much more innovative in its approach, stating “As a country, we need to implement a different way of thinking when it comes to planning, designing, building and manufacturing sustainably”.

The submission encourages the Scottish Government to reform the planning system to prioritise development activity that utilises circular principles, encouraging innovation collaboration rather than a ban on activity or an additional cost, whether through taxation or additional regulation.

Glasgow Chamber has been leading the city’s activity on the circular economy since 2016, with efforts recognised by the World Economic Forum, being nominated for the Forum’s Public Sector Award for cities, nations and regions in January 2019.

The Chamber has twice won competitive tenders from Zero Waste Scotland to deliver innovative business engagement, and recently launched the Circular Glasgow Network which has already enrolled over 100 Glasgow based businesses in a collaboration to adopt circular strategies.

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