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Measuring Scotland's progress towards a circular economy

If Scotland is to make the transition to circular swiftly and successfully, it is vital that we can measure the impact of the changes needed to ensure our actions bring the right results.

Zero Waste Scotland commissioned this study to assess the value of existing metrics and identify the most effective ways to drive and track progress on reducing our carbon emissions.

The study found that no single metric could be used to measure Scotland’s progress on adopting a circular economy, and none of the metrics currently available would be adequate. This is because they focus largely on the impact of materials at their end-of-life. For a true measure of the carbon impact of our consumption habits we need to measure the emissions created across the whole supply chain, from extraction of raw materials through transportation, manufacturing, use and reuse, to disposal at end-of-life.

The study also identified further barriers to using existing metrics, such as those monitoring our material consumption and carbon footprint. Problems raised in this report included a lack of data currently available, the cost of data collection, and difficulties in understanding or using available metrics.  

While the study concluded that no single metric could be used to monitor Scotland’s progress on adopting a circular economy, authors identified that a range of metrics could be developed and used collectively. We recognise that two datasets in particular (a Scottish material flows accounts and Scotland’s carbon footprint) will be key to this as we move forward with our work to drive progress on switching to a circular economy and combating the climate crisis.

Read full Measuring Scotland’s progress towards a circular economy to help combat the climate emergency report. 

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