Zero Waste Scotland report makes climate benefits case for circular economy


A new report from Zero Waste Scotland has modelled the impact of circular economy strategies on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Carbon Impacts of the Circular Economy used Zero Waste Scotland’s Carbon Metric and other peer reviewed research to quantify the potential carbon impacts of a more circular economy in Scotland.


It compared a 2012 baseline with four different scenarios for 2050.

The report highlighted that:


  1. Material consumption is responsible for over two thirds of Scotland’s carbon emissions.
  2. A more circular Scottish economy could reduce territorial emissions by 11 million tonnes CO2e per year by 2050 compared to business as usual, while providing the potential for continued economic growth.
  3. Nearly 1 in every 5 tonnes of material flowing through the Scottish economy is waste.
  1. Regardless of carbon accounting methodology 
    (territorial vs.consumption), achieving a more circular economy could help Scotland reduce its carbon emissions without sacrificing economic prosperity.


Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “This report shows that a circular economy – where we move away from a ‘take, make and dispose’ society – could have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland.

“There’s real momentum behind the circular economy with policy roadmaps in development both here in Scotland and at the European level. This report adds further impetus to efforts to place the circular economy at the heart of mainstream economic and environmental policy.

“Previous studies have indicated the considerable economic opportunities of a circular economy, but this is one of the first to clearly show it can help combat climate change and contribute to national and international agreements to reduce emissions.

“It’s also a valuable contribution to discussions about how we measure progress in future. International agreements on climate change have favoured territory-based accounting methods, but to truly understand our global impacts, it can be helpful to think instead about what we consume as a society, regardless of where it comes from, using consumption-based carbon accounting methods.”

View the report here