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We need to talk about consumption

The time to tackle the climate crisis is now. We can do so by reimagining the way we live, work and travel.

Location : Online,

Date : From 05/10/2021 - 09:00 to 17:00

Join us at our virtual conference ahead of COP26, taking place on Tuesday 5th October. It promises to be a jam-packed day of discussion, featuring brilliant minds and experts from around the world, aimed at inspiring people to play their part in tackling the climate crisis.

What is our ambition for our COP26 event?

Zero Waste Scotland thinks there’s a vital conversation missing in the climate crisis discussion. It’s an important topic that’s noticeably absent from the COP26 agenda, too. 


We believe that to truly end our contribution to the climate crisis, we need to rethink how we consume in Scotland and around the world. So, we’re making conscientious consumption the focus of our event.

Around four-fifths of Scotland’s footprint comes from the products and materials we manufacture, use, and throw away. In fact, the average Scot consumes 18.4 tonnes of materials every year – that’s the equivalent of 50kg per week on average.

The evidence is clear: consumption in Scotland is unsustainably high. And this, no doubt, is a similar picture in countries around the world.

The magnitude is, in part, due to the quantity of things we buy. Therefore, we need a system-wide change that enables us all to choose more sustainable ways to live, use the things we need, and share resources.

This is what’s known as a circular economy and it’s something we know is a solution in tackling climate change. Through it, we can maximise value from the goods we already have in circulation, while relieving pressure on finite natural materials like oil and precious metals.

For many years, Zero Waste Scotland has been working with businesses and leaders across Scotland to implement circular strategies – taking learnings from Europe and further afield. We know that adapting to a circular economy can - and does - work, delivering an improved bottom line for business and offering a more sustainable ways of life for citizens. 

But we need to do more to expand our reach further; to help everyone understand how they can play their own, vital, part in a circular economy.

Now, with the recent appointment of the first Circular Economy Minister in Scotland, we have a huge opportunity to accelerate our circularity, change Scotland for the better, and become an example for the rest of the world. Our event will help you understand where you can help.

What can you expect at our event?

Our aim for this conference is to inspire people – citizens, business leaders, decision makers – to play their part in a circular economy. Therefore, we’ll be asking bold questions and provoking thoughtful conversation that ultimately supports our ambition for Scotland to set clear and time-bound targets that reduce our carbon footprint from consumption.

Our world-renowned keynote speakers and panellists will come together to discuss a variety of important topics - see agenda below:

09:30-10:00 - Exhibition

10:00-10:05 - Welcome

Vic Emery, Zero Waste Scotland

10:05-10:45 - Eye on the prize. What does a circular economy mean for Scotland?

The circular economy is no longer a concept, it is a demonstrable solution to climate change. And it’s happening right here on the ground in Scotland and internationally.

We’ll discuss why it’s important, going beyond the philosophical and theoretical to how it can (and does) improve the way we live, learn and work.

Host: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland


  • Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
  • Jocelyn Blériot, Executive Lead - Institutions, Governments and Cities, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

10:45-10:50 - Break

10:50-11:45 - Panel Session: How do we bridge the overconsumption and carbon gap?

Circularity Gap Reports are a valuable means of setting national baselines and measuring the potential improvements required to "close the circularity gap". Transformation of economies from linear to circular requires political, behavioural and economic change. Join the conversation with nations that have conducted circularity gap analysis as they share their learnings as they’ve met and overcome challenges.

Host: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland


  • Matthew Fraser, Lead, Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative, Circle Economy
  • Etienne Angers, Industrial Development Officer, Recyc Quebec

11:45-12:00 - Break

12:00-12:55 - Panel Session: Reimagine circular cities and regions. What is happening in Scotland and around the world?

We will explore what cities need to implement circularity and what strategic governance questions need to be asked.

Host: Jill Farrell, Customer Engagement & Communications Director, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Stuart Patrick, CEO, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
  • Alison Henderson, CEO, Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce and Perth Chamber of Commerce
  • Carrol Buxton, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Highlands and Islands Enterprise

12:55-13:30 - Lunch and exhibition

13:30-13:50 - We need to talk about consumption. Is it a habit we can break?

This session will aim to challenge our relationship with consumption. Bringing provocative thinking that will inspire all of us to change our behaviour, reinvent our business models, implement radical policy.

Host: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland

Speaker: Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity.

13:50-14:00 Break

14:00-14:45 - Panel Session: Rethink our food system to reduce food waste. Can it be done?

Overconsumption and waste within the food system needs to be seriously addressed by the Government and agencies, as well as food manufacturers and retailers.

Around half of all food waste in Scotland comes from householders. We need to understand what is behind the behaviours of Scottish householders when it comes to wasting food at home and how we drive change.

Host: Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland


  • Professor Iain Black, Professor of Sustainable Consumption, University of Stirling
  • Andrew Griffiths, Head of Value Chain Sustainability, Nestlé
  • Dr Richard Swannell, International Director, WRAP
  • Nadiya Catel-Arutyunova, Sustainability Policy Adviser, British Retail Consortium

14:45-15:00 - Break

15:00--15:45 - Panel Session: Reinventing the global supply chain and business models. Where does it begin?

The climate crisis is also a leadership crisis. How do organisations evolve complex business models, with global supply chains to be more sustainable and optimally, become more circular? Mounting consumer pressure and increasing cost of raw materials, higher costs of European trade and a warming planet. It’s a perfect storm.

Host: Louise Smith, People and Transformation Director , Zero Waste Scotland


  • Robert Graham, Managing Director, Graham's The Family Dairy
  • Jo Chidley, Founder Beauty Kitchen
  • Dr Geoff Mackey, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director, BASF

15:45-15:50 - Break

15:50-16:35 - Panel Session: Resources, not waste. How can we turn waste into valuable resources?

Our resources are finite. A circular economy approach helps to close the circle and keep materials in circulation - making things last. How do we innovate and invest for a waste management sector fit for the future?

Host: Ray Georgeson, Head of Resource Management, Waste & Recycling, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Francesco Lembo, Managing Director, ACR+
  • Omer Kutluoglu, Co-Founder and Director, Yes Recycling
  • Ceris Turner-Bailes, Chief Executive Officer, WasteAid
  • Jack McQuibban, Cities and Communities Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe

16:35 -16:40 - Close and thank you

Book your place at 'We need to talk about consumption'.

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