Scotland’s islands could lead a revolution in the way we shop with financial support being provided to eradicate wasteful packaging.
Zero Waste Scotland will administer a total of £600,000 in grant funding provided by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund to empower shops, from Shetland to Arran and all the islands in between, to take the next steps in the war on waste by ditching single-use packaging and moving to reusable options.
Single use grocery packaging, from tubs and trays to bottles and bags account for around 13 per cent of all household waste across the country.
Finance from the Islands Green Recovery Plan – Refillery Fund will be provided for dispensing and other equipment that enables customers to obtain grocery products in reusable containers brought from home.
This includes dispensers for dry goods such as cereals, pulses, grains, herbs, spices, pasta and rice, liquid items such as milk, fruit juices, oils and vinegars, and other products such as laundry detergents, washing up liquids, fabric softeners and liquid soaps.
Some pioneering shops have already started using package free dispensers but the new scheme would see cash made available to existing small and medium sized enterprises in the isles to make the transition.
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:
“Island communities have to bear the double burden of dealing with imported single-use items and then the shipping-off of waste.
“This scheme gives shops on the islands the chance to be ahead of the game and at the forefront of a positive change.
“The financial help we are making available will enable outlets to make this significant positive step.
“There is an understanding among communities about the damage done by single-use packaging as they see the effects in the countryside, beaches and seas around them.
“As well as reducing waste, by opting for reuse we also reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need to extract, transport and manufacture materials to make new products.”
The scheme is part of a larger £2million programme designed to inspire locally-led green projects as part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laura Cook, from Lismore Stores, said:
“Like myself, many islanders are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, and feel quite passionately about trying to reduce waste and the volume of single use plastics.
“I feel that it is our responsibility to ensure that our world is healthy and here for generations to come.
“I was delighted to hear about this opportunity and very much hope that we can be involved.”
With shortages of some basic items occurring during lockdown, Raasay Stores offered shoppers flour, washing-up liquid and other items to take home in reusable containers.
David Carslaw, from Raasay Stores, said:
“We had all our customers bringing their own containers in and we refilled them, so saving on plastic bottles and bags.
“It is also cheaper for the customer, so provides a more value for money option than just buying retail size packs off the shelf, and if a customer only needs a small quantity, then that is also an option.
“I would recommend it for its benefit to the environment.
“We will have to rejig the shop a bit to fit these things in properly, but they have been welcomed by our customers and if we had a decent display space for them, then I think they would be of good benefit to the business as well.”
Across Scotland around 130kg of packaging per household generates an estimated 650,000 tonnes of global production emissions per year.
Single-use grocery packaging also creates litter.
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said:
“The Islands Green Recovery Programme will stimulate new economic activity across our islands – helping to create a sustainable green economy.
“We are aware that mitigating the effects of climate change can be more expensive for those living on our islands, which is why we are delighted to announce this funding.
“This investment with Zero Waste Scotland is available to small and medium enterprises – who wish to offer customers a packaging-free shopping experience, where they are encouraged to use their own re-useable containers to purchase a range of foods and household groceries.”
The Islands Green Recovery Plan – Refillery Fund is part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which will invest £73m in circular economy and resource efficiency projects, thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Applications for funding are open until 5pm on 16 November 2020.
For further details please contact IGRP@zerowastescotland.org.uk