Category 18 April 2019

Zero Waste Scotland - helping Scotland to become more resource efficient

Zero Waste Scotland is an organisation funded by the Scottish Government to deliver its Zero Waste Plan, which is based on the principles of resource efficiency and circular economy. Besides its core activities of providing funding and training, Zero Waste Scotland is active in communication and engagement of various stakeholders and offers a range of online tools, templates and apps.

The challenge

Scotland recognises the important role of resource efficiency to boost the economy and reduce negative environmental impacts.

The measure

In recent years, Scotland developed - in addition to its already existing resource efficiency approach - a circular economy concept. Both are now combined in Zero Waste Scotland, the goal of which is to eliminate waste in all forms.

The work of Zero Waste Scotland supports the delivery of Scottish Government policy, including: the Climate Change (Scotland) Act (2009)[1], the Zero Waste Plan (2010), Low Carbon Scotland (2013)[2], Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources (2013)[3] and the forthcoming National Litter strategy.[4]

Zero Waste Scotland is an organisation funded by the Scottish Government to deliver its Zero Waste Plan.[5] From mid-2014 on, Zero Waste Scotland separated from WRAP , of which it was a subsidiary, to become a separate Scottish-based legal body.  As a result, Zero Waste Scotland is more visibly placed to integrate its work with Scottish delivery partners. Zero Waste Scotland acts as a facilitator to help individuals, local authorities, NGOs, companies including SMEs and different industry players with waste reduction, increasing energy efficiency in industry and promoting responsible water and wastewater treatment on the road to a sustainable economy.

In practical terms, Zero Waste Scotland is providing support on how to reach both goals of resource efficiency and a circular economy. As support to business, a checklist exists for companies, which shows how to brief the company’s waste contractor to help improving waste management and waste monitoring.[6]

Besides its core tasks of providing funding (mostly in the form of grant funding) and training, Zero Waste Scotland also strongly engages in communication and engagement of stakeholders (it offers a range of online tools, templates and apps for raising awareness). It furthermore fulfils an additional policy support function by providing technical expertise to the Scottish Government in areas such as economics, research, evaluation, environmental analysis, data and financial mechanisms.

Over the course of 2014-15 Zero Waste Scotland will provide over £10 million of grant support available to stakeholders through the promotion of recycling and resource efficient practices.

Lessons learnt

Zero Waste Scotland is an integrated approach displaying a government-led circular economy strategy, and successfully disseminating the message that developing a circular economy is a huge opportunity to boost jobs and meet environmental targets.

In addition, Zero Waste Scotland provides communication material, guidelines and online tools to be tailored to its varying target groups, and encourages stakeholders from micro- to big enterprises in make an effort for the goal of Zero Waste Scotland.

Further deployment

The concept by now is well established and being continuously improved in Scotland, United Kingdom. National and local governments that do not yet implement a similar approach can learn from Scotland’s integrated and holistic strategy towards zero waste. The concept is transferable and scalable to any region or economy. It is estimated to be 6 on the GML scale. Similar approaches on the European level already exist with the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) and The Resource Innovation Network for European Waste (ReNEW).


Accredited distance training for Scottish SMEs – brochure