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2014 – Scotland’s big year

A lot of things are traditional at this time of year, from putting up the tree to eating turkey (though as a vegetarian, I won’t be doing that). A tradition I would like to honour is to review the year about to end. 

Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland | 19 Dec 14

A lot of things are traditional at this time of year, from putting up the tree to eating turkey (though as a vegetarian, I won’t be doing that). A tradition I would like to honour is to review the year about to end. Although I doubt mine will be the first or the last “review of 2014” you’ll be reading I do think it’s good to pause and reflect, before plunging into another year full of activity. It also acts as a means of celebrating some pretty significant achievements along the road to zero waste sometimes overlooked in the cut and thrust of day to day delivery.

The big change for Zero Waste Scotland this year was that we became a standalone company by separating from WRAP on 1st July. This was followed by the appointment of our first Chair Vic Emery, and later, three new Board members.

Either side of that transition, the pace of activity at Zero Waste Scotland has been terrific.

On 1st January, the Waste (Scotland) Regulations came into effect, making it mandatory for businesses to separate key materials and present food waste for recycling. As well as increasing recycling levels the introduction of the Regulations has seen a greater awareness of ‘resource’ issues within many business sectors which in turn has increased the number of enquiries to our Resource Efficient Scotland service. This positive engagement  continues to be good as ‘the Regs’ approach their first anniversary.

In February, backed by the fashion industry, we asked people across Scotland to “Love Your Clothes” – think about repairing or upcycling, rather than getting rid of your old clothes.

In March our pilot project for promoting greater use of doggy bags to avoid food waste in some of Scotland most popular restaurants caught the imagination.

In May, our Resource Efficient Scotland programme celebrated its first anniversary, at an event in Edinburgh with Fergus Ewing, the Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism. The programme has helped tens of thousands of organisations make savings and we also launched the Resource Efficiency Pledge scheme to reward pioneering firms.

The same month, Falkirk Council became the first in the UK to introduce three-weekly residual waste collections, with our support.  This year we’ve also helped Scottish councils roll out food waste collections so that 1.3m households now have access to a food waste collection for recycling their uneaten sprouts this Christmas!

In June, we took on responsibility for reducing the impact of litter in Scotland, taking forward Scotland’s first litter strategy, which will see a range of innovative projects and people taking forward ideas to tackle the problem.

July, of course, brought the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow.  The Games met its waste targets, with our support: 86% of waste was diverted from landfill; almost half of all waste was recycled during the Games; and fully compostable plates, cups and bottles were used – a first for a major event in Scotland.  We recruited an outstanding team of volunteers to engage with Games visitors about recycling.

In August, Dunbar was declared Scotland’s first Zero Waste town.  The first of many we hope!

In September we relaunched the National Re-use Phone line with a PR drive that has seen calls rocket, and stay high, taking high quality items out of needless landfill.

October was a big month.  Hogging the headlines was the introduction of Scotland’s Carrier Bag Charge, which was backed by a huge amount of work, especially around retailer engagement and consumer publicity. And it hasn’t stopped there as we are continuing to get retailers signed up to our Carrier Bag Commitment.

We also hosted the Scottish Resources Conference together with CIWM.  The ‘must attend’ pace-setting event heard from the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochhead delivering the keynote in which he announced a new Scottish Remanufacturing Institute and a Materials Brokerage Service for local authorities.

In November, our role as Scottish organisers for European Week for Waste Reduction saw dozens of ‘Waste Free Lunches’ take place all over the country, including our office, and Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles to name but two.

Finally, and most recently, this month we reported on the continuing growth of Scotland’s organics recycling sector, which experienced record levels of food waste processing, even before the advent of Scotland’s waste regulations.

I think you’ll agree it’s been a great year. Of course all of this has been achieved in collaboration with a whole host of partners across the public, private and community landscape. It really has been a Team Scotland Year. I’m optimistic for even more progress and partnership in 2015. 

For now, we can all look forward to a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Except maybe the turkeys!

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