Scotland Launches A First-Of-Its-Kind Approach To Recycling

Not all recycling is created equal.

In what it’s describing as a first-of-its-kind initiative, Scotland is completely reorganizing how it measures and incentivizes recycling to encourage cities to focus on what matters most: reducing carbon.

A Carbon Metric

The new “carbon metric” will prioritise materials with a high carbon impact such as plastics and textiles, which currently have relatively low levels of recycling in Scotland.

It will also highlight the relative merits of different waste management options, and will support the aspiration for greater “closed loop” recycling markets, for example, by giving higher weighting to glass which is recycled back into glass rather than that which is used for aggregates or insulation materials.

A Focus On What’s Important To Recycle

At the same time, local governments will be focusing less on materials that aren’t as important to recycle in terms of carbon saved, like paper.

This is believed to be the first attempt anywhere in the world to apply climate change thinking to waste management performance measurement.

Goal Of 70% Recycling By 2025

The new system has been devised to support the Scottish Government’s zero waste ambitions. It will help to prioritise the materials and waste management options needed to reach the target for 70% recycling by 2025.
Environment Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“I’m delighted to announce today another huge and world-leading step the Scottish Government is taking to monitor Scotland’s recycling successes. The new way of measuring performance will focus on the carbon savings of each item, rather than its weight.

“This demonstrates the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan in action and another huge step towards our vision of a zero waste Scotland.”

Government-Funded Zero Waste Program

Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and works with
businesses, communities, individuals and local authorities to help them reduce waste, recycle more and use resources sustainably.

Can you imagine such a government-funded initiative in the U.S.? Kudos to Scotland!

Photo credit: ogt// ou gee tew tee via Creative Commons


Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider4 years ago

Way to go Scotland! :-)

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago


Anna C.
Anna Maria Co6 years ago

Inspirations to us all!

Brian Hamilton
Brian Hamilton6 years ago

keep up great work scotland

Arielle Black-Foley

While its fantastic that they are amping up recycling initiatives (really, it is impressive), I hope this does not lead to complacency in terms of not using re-usables when possible. There needs to be a three tiered approach, after all- the motto is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"- while it helps that one of these facets is strengthened, the other two should certainly not be ignored.

Heide C.
Heide C6 years ago

Absolutely wonderful ... a great step forward! As for this in the US? I don't think so, the majority of Americans are still way too lazy to recycle! This comes from someone who grew up in a forefront recycling country and has lived and therefore observed in the US for 40 years.

Christine S.
Christine S6 years ago

Great work, scotland! It is better to reuse glass to make another glass bottle, and it is better to reuse a shopping bag first then recycle it when it can no longer be reused..

Doug D.
Doug D6 years ago

Kudos to Scotland!

Judy W.
Judy W6 years ago

I hope that the Scots are very proud. This is great ! !

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago

gott love those Scots.