With Greens in government we are taking action to build our circular economy - Lorna Slater

I wasn’t a minister when I was first elected to Parliament. I was co-leader of the Scottish Greens, and, before the cooperation agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government, I had a regular slot at First Minister’s Questions.

Lorna Slater with her fellow Green government minister Patrick Harvie
Lorna Slater with her fellow Green government minister Patrick Harvie

Last June I used my question to raise the issue of companies across Scotland destroying thousands of perfectly usable items everyday, including computer equipment, books and even face masks.

Many of these items were brand new, but these companies were choosing to destroy them rather than donating them to our schools or people that would benefit.

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It is absolutely senseless for perfectly good products to end up in landfill. Rather than being wasted or incinerated, they should be reused or repurposed. I could see the injustice that was taking place, and I wanted to stop it.

Last week I was proud to announce the steps that we are taking to stop this. As part of a Circular Economy Bill that I will be taking through Parliament, we aim to ban the destruction of unsold goods and make sure they make it into the hands of those that need them.

I made the announcement from Fresh Start in Edinburgh, an excellent charity that helps people who have been homeless to establish themselves in their new home. Organisations like Fresh Start underline the vital impact that these items can make, and, with the cost-of-living crisis we are in, this need is growing rapidly.

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The circular economy we want to build is one that eliminates waste by promoting sharing, reuse, and recycling. Instead of having an economy in which we take, make and dispose, we design to last and we reuse and repair while wasting as little as possible.

This kind of approach isn't just good for our communities, but also for our environment. When goods go to landfill without having even been used once, we don’t just waste the product – we also waste all the energy and raw materials that went into making them.

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The Bill we present will be a bold and ambitious one that aims to transform the way we manage waste and relate to our economy. It is one of a series of measures that we are introducing to reduce pollution and cut our carbon emissions.

Last November we announced the largest investment in recycling for a generation, and, this June, we will be introducing a ban on many of the worst single-use plastics that litter our streets and pollute our seas. We will build on this next summer with the introduction of a world-leading deposit return scheme that will make it easier for people to recycle their used bottles and cans.

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These are not changes I could have made when asking questions as a party leader. They are the difference between opposition and government. They are the difference between calling for something to be done and being able to deliver it.

This is the change that we are delivering nationally and that our Green councillors are working to deliver locally. This May will see the local elections. With more Green councillors we can do even more to build fairer, greener communities across our city.

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Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

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