Scotland must remove obstacles to higher recycling rates to achieve net zero, says Committee


Holyrood Net Zero Committee warns unless key barriers facing local government are dealt with, such as obstacles to higher recycling rates and the circular economy, Scotland will not reach net zero by 2045.

The report, “The role of local government and its cross-sectoral partners in financing and delivering a net zero in Scotland”, says Scotland will not meet its target of being net zero by 2045 without a more empowered local government sector.

It also highlights that local government will need better access to the necessary skills and capital, and a clearer understanding of the specific role the Scottish Government wants it to play in some key delivery areas.

In the section of the report on recycling and the circular economy, the Committee said it shares the Scottish Government’s ambitions to achieve lower and more consistent recycling rates across Scotland’s Local Authority areas, in line with net-zero targets.

However, the report also stated that whilst this will involve the sharing of best practices to promote consistency, it also requires an approach tailored to local needs, particularly in rural and island communities.

The Committee asked the Scottish Government to work with Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and with Zero Waste Scotland to further refine its national waste strategy in a way that reflects those twin approaches.

The report called on the Scottish Government to clarify what provision it anticipates making in forthcoming legislation on the circular economy.

As part of the report, the Committee called on the Scottish Government to respond to views expressed in evidence that local government procurement places undue weight on short-term economic benefit rather than long-term sustainability and investigate whether relevant guidance requires to be updated.

It also called on the Scottish Government to clarify what provision it anticipates making in forthcoming legislation on the circular economy to ensure greater consistency between procurement and net zero goals.

The Committee says “a clear message” of the inquiry is that no amount of additional government funding is realistically likely to bridge the gap between the current reality and our national net zero ambitions.

It continues that private investment at scale will be needed in many sectors to achieve net zero by 2024; in particular for the decarbonisation of transport and heat in buildings.

The Scottish Government and its agencies need to work with local government on an investment strategy that will increase investor appetite and lead to deals being agreed upon, the Committee says.

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