Scotland Could be Next to Implement Circularity Legislation

In the last year, we’ve covered the latest in sustainability legislation across the US and Europe. From the German Supply Chain Law and EU’s Circularity Economy Plan, to Extended Producer Responsibility laws in the US up to New York’s recent announcement of the Fashion Sustainability Act, aiming to hold major fashion houses accountable to their sustainability goals, it’s safe to say government intervention around environmental accountability is on the rise. Scotland’s latest proposed bill around waste and product destruction could be a major push for the UK. 

According to BBC, “destruction of unsold, durable goods could be banned in Scotland as part of plans to reduce waste” and “proposals for a ban will be put forward in a consultation on a new Circular Economy Bill to be published in May.”

This announcement follows Amazon’s pledge to donate unused items to families in need in Fife earlier this year, after they faced public backlash last summer for destroying hundreds of thousands of unsold products a week at their Scotland warehouse

The sector of the Scottish government organizing around circular economy initiatives is partnering with organizations “providing a whole variety of creative alternatives for materials considered waste or surplus.” The goal of circularity is “to reduce waste and keep products and materials in use for as long as possible”, and Scotland is a leader in the space. 

“From being one of the first nations with a circular economy strategy, to fueling a business-led movement, and appointing the world’s first Minister of the Circular Economy, Scotland is cementing itself as a frontrunner on circularity.”

Circle Economy

As part of Scotland’s push towards circularity, they’ve joined Wales and England in planning to implement a “deposit return scheme, which will be launched in Scotland in 2023 and England and Wales in late 2024”, an will focus on improving “recyclability by incentivising consumers to return their glass or plastic bottles and cans for credit or cashback at local collection points”.

In light of recycling programs as described above, some people are arguing for the benefit of digitized alternatives to manual collection and incentivisation programs, which places the responsibility for additional labor and organization on local businesses like supermarkets. A Welsh town participated in a pilot program utilizing a “digital ‘describe, tag and trace’ technology, which enables brands to ‘describe’ their packaging and ‘tag’ it with a scannable QR code”. Utilizing QR code technology to track recycling program compliance “allows businesses, governments, and consumers to understand how packaging is managed post-consumption…[because] the code holds descriptive information, such as when and where the packaging was produced and the percentage of recycled materials it includes” (Packaging News).

This information will be vital to administering the £200 per tonne Plastics Packaging Tax, which comes into force on April 1, 2022 and applies to all plastic packaging produced in – or imported to – the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.

“The digital describe, tag and trace system will also take the strain of administering coming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, expected in 2023, which will put the onus on businesses to take full financial responsibility for product packaging beyond its initial use.”

Packaging News

As made evident in the quote above, the proposed circularity measures set to be announced in May in Scotland are working in tandem with other environmental legislation set to take effect in the next two years across the UK. Implementing a track and trace system will allow a more smooth transition to and uptake of these measures.

Read more about Extended Producer Responsibility here.

Because circularity measures need to target both ends of the supply chain, the recycling component and also the incorporation of recycled and upcycled materials into the beginning of the supply chain, solutions focused on serialization and traceability are a must. In order to comply with new regulations, businesses and governments need to have systems in place to be able to track and report on data that’s both specific and reliable. 

Utilizing a solution like Vi3’s suite of tools allows businesses to harness the power of blockchain technology and the accessibility of QR serialization to track, trace, and report on each part of the supply chain from manufacturing to purchasing and then recycling. From declaring your investment in a traceable supply chain, our modules will enable you to track towards globally-recognized certifications, identify where opportunity for sustainable growth lies, and come up with a remediation plan to implement over time.

Our team of experts is hard at work helping businesses reach and surpass their sustainability efforts, and prepare for legislation that’s sure to leave unprepared businesses rushing for a fix. Interested in knowing how you can make sure you have a leg up? Contact us today.

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