Scotland was once the UK’s industrial heartland, and sectors like steel and shipbuilding furnished some cities with a global footprint.
As these industries declined, smoky slagheaps and mountainous landfills became tombstones to their terrible environmental legacy.
So The Scottish Government launched a zero waste strategy in 2010 aimed at 70 per cent waste recycling and a maximum of five per cent landfill waste by 2025.
And it seems to be working — Scotland was recently ranked as a top circular economy nation by The World Economic Forum.
So here’s how Scotland worked towards becoming a circular economy champion.
In the distant past Scottish householders roared ‘gardyloo’ as a warning before dumping buckets of waste out of their windows.
But nowadays eco-friendly Scots spend much of their leisure time separating rubbish into strict categories and placing it in colour-coded bins.
Most Scottish kitchens also contain a dinky food caddy to collect culinary scraps — the government targets a 33 per cent reduction in food waste by 2025.
Councils provide a limited supply of biodegradable bin bags in a starter-kit, but it’s easy to find replacement caddy liners online from firms who’ve tapped into the business potential of the eco-economy.
Local authorities operate efficient recycling centres for bulky household items — drivers simply dump boot-borne detritus into signposted skips.
Much of the waste is then transported to large recycling centres where it’s sifted thoroughly for more refined repurposing.
And lucrative government recycling contracts have encouraged private firms in diverse sectors to convert cavernous storage buildings to suit this purpose perfectly.
Mezzanine warehouse floors are used to house picking stations where the most valuable materials are separated by staff — and some facilities can sort up to 250 tonnes of waste per day.
Getting business on board
Zero Waste Scotland is the Scottish Government agency charged with promoting the national recycling strategy.
And it encourages business partners to advertise eco-friendly credentials through its ‘Resolve’ certification scheme.
This desirable status assures customers that products and processes meet sustainable standards —and the kudos this brings boosts the bottom line.
The scheme attracts many third-sector firms already invested in upcycling but private firms are increasingly keen to get involved.
World championship recycling
Recycling Week is held each September — with a host of educational events designed to enthuse the public.
Last year, Coatbridge brothers Adam and Liam Cassidy broke a world record by sorting a bag of 200 mixed items into recycling containers in just one minute and 49 seconds.
Scottish household recycling is currently at 43 per cent — some way short of the 70 per cent target for 2025.
But the sterling efforts of the Government and the Scottish public mean that the nation’s environmental credentials are now amongst Europe’s strongest.
And when you have the persuasive power to get young people excited about rubbish, smashing long-term targets is child’s play.
Do you do anything exciting with your business waste? Share your stories here.
Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.