CONSERVATVIES have drawn up their own plans for legislation to eliminate waste after growing tired of repeated delay from the Scottish Government.
The SNP and Greens Government will set out their legislative agenda for the next 12 months when Nicola Sturgeon announces her Programme for Government tomorrow.
The Scottish Government has committed that a 20% increase in frontline health spending will form a key part of Tuesday’s announcement – with an additional £2.5 billion set to be spent by 2026/27.
Ministers are under pressure to show their commitment to cutting Scotland’s carbon emissions ahead of hosting the COP26 climate conference in November – after failing to hit annual targets for the last three years.
The Scottish Government pledged to bring forward a circular economy bill in 2019 – a host of measures to halt illegal dumping of waste and ensuring products are re-used and not sent to landfill. But ministers confirmed the plans had been put on hold amid the pandemic, but have not resurfaced.
Nicola Sturgeon has given Greens co-leader Lorna Slater responsibility for the circular economy, but no indication has been given as to when or if the legislative plans will be resurrected.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has suggested that transforming Scotland into a circular economy could save 11 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2050 – around one quarter of the current total.
Having been left frustrated with the lack of progress in bringing forward plans for a circular economy bill by the Scottish Government , Conservative MSP Maurice Golden will this week launch his own proposals as a private members’ bill at Holyrood.
Mr Golden’s bill would aim to create thousands of jobs and a major economic boost, delivering a circular economy centre for excellence and an institute for re-use.
A business case for a plastic recycling plant in Scotland would be brought forward under the proposals, as well as an “electric arc furnace” to allow for steel to be recycled.
A commitment would also be brought in to support local authorities on having a “clear and consistent” kerbside waste collection system.
Public procurement would also align with circular economy goods and services to ensure the state led by example.
Mr Golden said: “A bill on the circular economy is long overdue.
“The SNP has had years to do something on this and, while it speaks warm words about the environment, it still hasn’t moved forward.
“If the Scottish Government continues to stall on this most vital of issues, we have no choice but to push it through as a private members’ bill.”
He added: “Establishing a successful circular economy in Scotland will help meet our climate change targets as well as also creating jobs, opportunities and wealth for communities right across Scotland.
“People and businesses want to be greener and they want to play their part.
“It’s time Holyrood did its job and legislated to help make that happen.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has appealed for the Programme for Government to set out “ambitious targets to create more jobs and grow the Scottish economy faster than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.”
He added: “Now would be the worst time to spike uncertainty by pushing for another divisive referendum. The Programme for Government has to be for the whole country, not only for nationalists.
“It would be peak recklessness to risk jobs just now. Threats to key industries, such as oil and gas, must be ruled out in favour of positive moves to invest in infrastructure projects for the long term and help workers increase their skills in the short term.
“This is the first big test of this new nationalist coalition of chaos. They have a choice to make between protecting jobs or promoting their ideology.”
Next year, Scotland’s deposit return scheme will be launched – making it easier to recycle used bottles and cans.
The Scottish Government’s initial circular economy plans included the intention “to ban or restrict the sale of the priority plastic items set out in the EU’s Single-use Plastics Directive” and a strategy to “change our economic model to one that is less dependent on raw materials”.
Speaking before the summer recess, the First Minister told MSPs that “our commitment to a circular economy – and legislating for it – is known”.
She added: “I look forward to taking that forward with co-operation across the Parliament.”
In announcing Ms Slater taking on her new role as minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity last week, the First Minister said the Greens co-leader will “be tasked with driving a green industrial strategy, helping people to acquire the skills they need to benefit from the transition to net zero and working to protect our natural environment”.
Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform Minister, Màiri McAllan, has reiterated the Scottish Government’s “commitment to introducing a bill on the circular economy” but warned “that commitment had to be paused because of Covid”.
She added: “In the meantime, we are taking action outside primary legislation.
“That includes our pioneering deposit return scheme and our banning of harmful plastics, including beads and buds.
“We are also consulting on other harmful plastics, including plates and packaging.”