Proposal set to be included in Scotland’s forthcoming Circular Economy Bill, which is earmarked for consultation in May

The destruction of unsold, durable goods could be banned in Scotland under waste-busting proposals to be put forward as part of a new Circular Economy Bill in May, the Scottish Government has announced.

The move could require retailers to look for alternative means of dealing with unsold products, including through donating them to charity or recycling them, amid concern about the number of new, functioning products from clothing to electronics which end up being destroyed or sent to landfill.

The Scottish Government said the proposals were aimed at ensuring Scotland keeps pace with Europe, citing France’s recent decision to place a ban on the destruction of unsold goods as of January 2022, and current discussions around similar action at an EU level.

Pencilled in for public consultation in May, the Circular Economy Bill is expected to include a clutch of new measures to support Scotland’s 2025 waste and recycling targets, including through reducing waste, improving product design and keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible.

Scotland’s Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said it was “absolutely senseless for perfectly good products to end up in landfill”.

“Rather than being wasted in landfill or incinerated, they should be reused or repurposed,” she said. “We are living in a climate emergency. When goods go to landfill without having even been used once, we don’t just waste the product – we also waste all the energy and raw materials that went into making it.”

Slater added: “This is the sort of action that’s needed to create a circular economy and shows the level of ambition that will be contained in our proposals in May.”

The move follows a series of reports that have accused companies of destroying unsold products, including high street fashion retailers Urban Outfitters and Boohoo.

Michael Cook, CEO of membership network Circular Communities Scotland, which has been campaigning for a ban on companies destroying functioning, unsold products, said he fully supported the new proposals.

“Circular Communities Scotland represents a range of impressive charities and social enterprises providing a whole variety of creative alternatives for materials considered waste or surplus,” he said. “This bill validates their significant contribution towards establishing a more circular economy in Scotland.”

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