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From bags to big thinking: setting the stage for the Scottish Resources Conference

Iain Gulland - Director, Zero Waste Scotland | 27 Oct 14

It was a busy week last week, with the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge on Monday creating a flurry of media activity and generating a real buzz across society.  It’s great that it’s been a real talking point across the nation – in fact I even had a conversation about the charge at my barber’s on Saturday.   

Zero Waste Scotland put all hands to the pump to support the introduction of the charge, particularly though our support to retailers to help them prepare for it and encourage them to sign up to the Carrier Bag Commitment, which requires that the proceeds are donated to good causes.  The team here also supported the efforts of the Scottish Government, and other partners, to raise broad awareness that the change was coming. 

On this note, I’d particularly like to thank those retailers - both big and small, and their respective trade associations - that helped get the message out to shoppers ahead of the charge’s introduction.  When we remember that the charge was only announced a year ago, it’s easy to appreciate that there’s been a big effort by a lot of people.  

Based on the support we’ve seen from retailers and shoppers alike, the measure has already been a big success, and I’m optimistic that the regulations are going to drive the behaviour change we want, reducing the number of bags in circulation. 

Last week was also about making the final arrangements for this week’s Scottish Resources Conference – which kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday 28 October).   It’s one of the high points of our year and I’m personally looking forward to catching up with old friends, making some new contacts, and engaging in good natured debate.

The programme takes a long-term view this year, looking at some of the big trends and leadership issues that will shape the resources sector in the years to come.  We’re asking if the circular economy shift is something we’re approaching via evolution, or if in fact it needs something more revolutionary to drive it.  

It’s great that Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead can join us again to frame that discussion.  His personal leadership to both shape the agenda and the pace for change has been a key factor of previous conferences so his continuing support for the event is very welcomed indeed. 

Beyond that, we have a really top cast of thinkers and doers:  one of our pre-eminent economists Frances Cairncross CBE; manufacturing expert Professor Richard Harris; Glasgow-born Viridor CEO Ian McAuley; and another Scot making waves, Sandy Rodger from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

And asking some of questions over the two days will be two of our finest journalists, BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor and respected freelancer Maxine Perella.

It feels like a heavyweight line-up – topped off by a double-header to close the event from CIWM’s Steve Lee and Zero Waste Scotland’s new Chairman Vic Emery.

I can’t wait.  If you haven’t booked your place yet, it’s not too late – what are you waiting for?

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