Iain Gulland: Time to reduce waste

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At Zero Waste Scotland, our ultimate goal is clear – we want to eliminate waste in Scotland.

Driving this change through policies and national direction is of course important, but it’s also absolutely vital to this goal that Scotland’s communities are on board and taking action.

Which is why I was pleased to visit Dunbar, where the Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced it is to become Scotland’s first Zero Waste Town. We’ve launched this initiative to recognise collective efforts from residents, businesses and the local council to reduce waste, recycle more, and use resources efficiently.

The project will be coordinated by local community group Sustaining Dunbar, which will work closely with Zero Waste Scotland, East Lothian Council, local groups, businesses and residents to coordinate a comprehensive approach to transforming attitudes to waste in the town. This is the first time we’ve trialled a project like this, involving so many sections of the community, and I look forward to seeing what can be achieved when all these people work together to achieve a shared goal.

While Scotland’s overall target is to achieve a recycling rate of 70 per cent and reduce the amount of waste produced by 15 per cent by 2025, this project isn’t just about getting bins on streets and recycling collections in place, although this is an important part of the process. It’s about driving a change in mindset, so that materials once thought of as “waste” are now considered “resources” with a value. This fundamental shift in perception is crucial to reaching the goals we’ve set, and underpins the actions Dunbar has planned, such as opening a facility to make re-use of goods easier, and working with local schools to educate pupils on the value of materials.

What was obvious from attending the launch event is that there are a lot of players in the community with great ideas and a passion to succeed. I think there’s a “coming of age” for the idea of zero waste, which is motivating all sorts of new people, especially businesses.

As the project progress, I look forward to seeing these ideas become actions, and to finding out how we can replicate it across the country.

• Iain Gulland is director of Zero Waste Scotland