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Scotland's Footprint – was  launched at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on Tuesday 24th February.

More than 100 people attended the event which included  presentations from Richard Smith (Viridis), Peter Jones (Biffa Waste Services), George Fleming ( ICE Waste Management Board), Nicky Chambers (Best Foot Forward), Richard Dixon (WWF Scotland) and  John Graham ( Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department).    

For copies of the final report, data files and lifestyle calculator - see the Downloads page.

Launch Press Release - 24th February 2004

Launch presentations

Launch Photos

Press Coverage of Launch

Launch Press Release - 24th February 2004

 Scotland's Footprint – major new study measures Scotland's global impact

 A major new study launched today in Edinburgh (1) reveals that we would need two extra planets if every-one on Earth lived like the population of Scotland. "Scotland's Footprint" looks at the consumption patterns of Scotland's residents and assesses the ecological impact of Scottish lifestyles in 2001

For the first time, it has been possible to map the flow of resources into and out of Scotland and to calculate the ecological footprint - the environmental impact- of Scotland's residents. The study collected detailed data on the use of energy, materials and water, on waste generated and transport used. The research was commissioned by Viridis, and part-funded by the Scottish Executive and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), with a grant from Biffaward, a multi-million pound environment fund which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

An ecological footprint is an estimate of the land and sea area needed to provide all the energy, water, transport, food and materials that we consume. The ecological footprint of Scotland’s residents in 2001 was just over 27 million global hectares (gha), or 5.35 gha per person. The ‘big hitters’ of the ecological footprint were materials and waste (accounting for 38%) and food consumption (accounting for 29%). Direct energy use accounted for 18%.  

If everyone lived like the average Scot, we would need two extra planets. Scotland’s footprint is also compared with the footprints of other countries and regions.  Scotland’s footprint is the second smallest of the UK countries, behind Wales.

A range of scenarios was also developed, to show how the ecological footprint could be reduced through initiatives such as household waste reduction, improved energy efficiency and the increased use of public transport. Under current projections for growth in waste to 2020, even if we meet all waste management targets (recycling, composting and diverting biodegradable waste from the landfill) the ecological footprint of waste would actually go up! Whereas if we meet the recycling and composting target of 25% by 2006 and also achieve a zero growth in waste by 2010, as outlined in Scotland’s National Waste Plan, launched last year, the waste footprint goes down and continues to drop as our recycling improves. On energy, the footprint scenario reveals that If we switch 40% of electricity from brown grid to renewable electricity this alone would reduce our footprint by 10%.

At the launch, Dr Richard Dixon, Head of Policy for WWF Scotland, said  " For the first time we can now measure exactly how sustainable Scotland really is and see the scale of the challenge. For example we are making good progress on recycling, but even if we meet our targets, we are running to catch up with the increasing growth of the waste mountain - we must get serious about producing less."

Other interesting findings from the study report reveal that in 2001:

·         Scotland generated almost 15 million tonnes of waste.  This is enough waste for each person in Scotland to fill one and half refuse bags every day of the year.

·         On average, a Scottish resident consumes 540,000 litres of water every year.  This is enough to fill half an Olympic swimming pool.  For comparison, in 2001, Scotland exported enough whisky to fill 668 Olympic sized swimming pools.

·         On average, a Scottish resident consumes 624 kg of food every year.  This is equivalent to almost 9 times our body weight. [do we have info on how much food came from outside the UK ? include comparison of food consumption with food waste]

·         Scotland's total energy consumption was 140,000 GWh. This is enough energy to run 950 million televisions for a year.


Scotlands Footprint – a new study measuring Scotland's sustainability – will be launched at Dynamic Earth on Tuesday 24th February at 10.30 am – 2.00 pm. Speakers are Richard Smith, Viridis, Peter Jones, Biffa Waste Services, George Fleming, ICE Waste Management Board, Nicky Chambers, Best Foot Forward, Richard Dixon, WWF Scotland, John Graham, Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department.  

A photo opportunity with Steve Godfrey, Redwing Pictures will take place during the launch.

For more information on the ecological footprint, refer to the following websites:  www. bestfootforward.com; wwf.org.uk/scotland; www.regionalsustainability.org

The Advisory Group to the Scotland's Footprint project included:  (list membership of AG)

Richard A Smith (Chair)    Viridis
Emma Bailllie                         Sepa
Callum Blackburn                Falkirk Council on behalf of Sustainable Scotland Network
Liz Bogie                                Scottish Enterprise
George Burgess                    Scottish Executive
Nicky Chambers                   Best Foot Forward Ltd
David Cowan                        Scottish Executive
Dr Robin Curry                     Envirocentre
John Ferguson                     SEPA
John Forbes                          WRAP
Polly Griffiths                        Viridis/TRL
Nicola Jenkin                        Best Foot Forward Ltd
Prof Paul Jowitt                    Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology/ICE
Donald MacNeil                   Highlands & Islands Enterprise

Further information and contact details:

Nicola Jenkin, Best Foot Forward, The Future Centre, 115 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RQ. 

Tel:  01865 250818  E-mail:  nicola@bestfootforward.com

Best Foot Forward Ltd is a sustainability consultancy based in Oxford.  BFF's ecological footprint of the Isle of Wight was voted Overall Winner at the Biffaward Awards 2001.  Best Foot Forward   www.bestfootforward.com  

Launch Presentations

Combined presentations slides from:  Richard Smith (Viridis), , George Fleming ( ICE Waste Management Board), Nicky Chambers (Best Foot Forward), Richard Dixon (WWF Scotland) and  John Graham ( Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department). View. (PowerPoint file 7.5 MB)

Presentation slides: Peter Jones (Biffa Waste Services). Available on request  (Note: large PowerPoint file 35 MB)

Launch Photos

Photographs by Steve Godfrey Photography www.redwingpictures.com

Full size, high resolution photos available from Best Foot Forward

Press Coverage of Launch

WWF Scotland : http://www.wwf.org.uk/news/scotland/n_0000001128.asp

BBC News :  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3516531.stm

The Scotsman: http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=220832004

The Herald: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/10658.html

Edie: http://www.edie.net/gf.cfm?L=left_frame.html&R=http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/8099.cfm