Scotland's SMEs urged to 'seize opportunity' of resource revolution

Scotland's circular economy body Zero Waste Scotland has today (18 March) launched an £18m fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) explore and pioneer ways to develop a circular economy.

Clyde Arc bridge reflected in river Clyde Glasgow. Zero Waste Scotland is hoping to drive a business-led circular economy across the country

Clyde Arc bridge reflected in river Clyde Glasgow. Zero Waste Scotland is hoping to drive a business-led circular economy across the country

The Circular Economy Investment Fund will provide financial support for the development of new sharing economy, servitisation and recycling-based business models in an effort to encourage circular economy innovation across the country.

The £18m fund is part of a wider £70m programme, launched by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last month, which aims to improve the productivity and resource efficiency of Scotland’s manufacturing sector.

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland said: “We’re genuinely excited to be launching this fund to help businesses and organisations in Scotland seize the opportunities that the circular economy presents. Now is the time to turn big ideas into action. Developing a circular economy places significant emphasis on innovation and new thinking to find high value uses for materials, drive new technologies and develop infrastructure.

“It’s about opening up and stimulating markets to build prosperity that is sustainable, turning waste into wealth and keeping materials in productive use for as long as possible. We know the future is circular and our Circular Economy Investment Fund is available to help all sorts of small to medium-size businesses or organisations to not just stay ahead of the curve, but shape that curve.”

The new funding will be spread over three years, focussing on key sectors such as the bio-economy, the built environment and energy infrastructure.

Carbon Metric

This announcement caps off a busy week for Zero Waste Scotland. On Wednesday, the organisation reported that “Scotland is recycling more than ever before” and as such has reduced the carbon impact of its waste by 17% in the space of two years.

Scotland’s Carbon Metric – a method adopted by Zero Waste Scotland to measure the carbon impact of waste - takes into account the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste, from the energy and raw materials that went into producing items through to the impact of transporting materials in order for them to be recycled.

According to the Metric, increased recycling from Scottish homes and businesses triggered a carbon reduction of almost 2.3 Mt or 17% between 2011 and 2013.

Gulland said: “What these new figures show is that by recycling more we really are making a difference to the environment, not just here in Scotland, but globally too, by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“It shows that we are right to target recycling of things like metals and food waste as these have a very high carbon impact. The Carbon Metric, by moving for the first time towards a carbon-based measure for waste, has the potential to change the way we think about waste and how we manage it.”

The continued development of Carbon Metric will be important in measuring progress towards the Scottish Government’s ambitious new target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025.

Zero-waste fashion

More Zero Waste Scotland news came on Tuesday, when the organisation announced it is stepping up its work with the fashion industry to reduce the environmental impact of clothing. Zero-waste fashion collections were launched by two Scottish designers who transformed unwanted clothing donated to the charity into striking high-fashion collections.

Zero Waste Scotland textiles manager Lynn Wilson said: “We are really impressed by the final collections. Both designers have completely transformed old, unwanted garments into gorgeous new garments which are completely unrecognisable,” she said.

“All textiles have a value and can be used again and again. Clothing should never be put in the general waste bin and I believe our talented designers have spectacularly proved with this chic collection, inspired by the Salvation Army, that there’s an inherent value in clothing – and if you’re finished with it, someone else can use it!”

In the UK, garments have an estimated lifespan of just two years and three months. The average Scottish household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, but wear only 70% of that each year.

Resource Efficiency at edie Live 2016

How do you ensure your business is protected from scarcity in the supply chain? How do you reduce usage and find ways to reduce your waste outputs at the same time? Who is responsible and how do you effect change on an organisational level?

From specific strategies and solutions to analysis of the broader issues at play, the Resource Efficiency Theatre at edie Live 2016 in May is a must-attend for any business, small or large, seeking to reduce their consumption, minimise their waste outputs and mitigate risk in their supply chains.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here.

Luke Nicholls & George Ogleby


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