Scottish island's shops awarded funding to tackle single use packaging

Zero Waste Scotland
Katharine Johnston

Grant funding provided by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund will empower shops, from 12 Scottish islands, to take the next steps in the war on waste by introducing shoppers with more reusable options.

In addition to seeing waste frequently washing up on the shores around them, island communities bear the double burden of dealing with imported single-use items and then the shipping-off of waste.

The Islands Green Recovery Programme Refill Fund will provide 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.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said:

“The Islands Green Recovery Programme Refill Fund delivers a series of exciting and innovative projects that will support green recovery and carbon emission reductions. It will increase the resilience of island communities through investment in food sustainability and projects that support and impact upon the green circular economy and related employment.

“All four strands of the overall £2 million Islands Green Recovery Programme will fund projects that help our island communities to thrive, contribute to our work on repopulation and create jobs. In line with the commitments set out in the National Islands Plan, projects will also support and enhance health and wellbeing as well as the development of local supply chains and the associated economic output that comes with this.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“There has been a lot of interest in the scheme and it is pleasing to see the demand is there for retailers and their customers to make the switch to reusables. As well as cutting the volume of waste, reducing the amount of material we consume is a significant positive for the environment. If we can demonstrate the success of refill-type shops on the islands, it could lead the way in changing how we shop nationwide.”

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.

Emma Bee, founder of The Selkie Collective, said: 

“We are very excited to have received the IGRP funding. It will allow us to widen our existing range of refill options by funding dried food dispensers. We will now be able to provide not only household cleaning refills, but also foods such as pasta, flour and dried fruit, to our customers in Skye and Lochalsh. This will add to the efforts in our community to reduce the large amount of single use plastic.”

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 leads to higher instances of litter, which can be harmful to local wildlife.

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. 

The Islands Green Recovery Programme Refill 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).