Glasgow unveils ambition to become Scotland’s first ‘circular city’

Glasgow City Council has this week outlined a plan to become Scotland's first "circular city", by reducing its domestic and commercial waste footprint and implementing measures to encourage reuse and recycling.

Announced at the 2018 Circular Economy Hotspot event in Glasgow on Wednesday (31 October), the ambition will see the local authority publish a route map for achieving a circular economy by the end of 2019.

While full details of the route map are yet to be revealed, Glasgow City Council confirmed it will focus on five key areas: the built environment, food, textiles, plastics and energy.

Under the energy pillar of the strategy, the local authority has pledged to ensure that 15% of the city’s domestic properties are powered by renewable electricity by 2030.

The plastics pillar, meanwhile, will see the Council develop a new action plan that will see it working with waste management firms, businesses and homeowners to ensure the city’s plastic waste is reused, recycled or repurposed. This plan is due for publication by spring 2019.

“Our route map will point a way to building better homes and communities, reducing food insecurity and playing our part in dealing with the world’s addiction to single-use plastic,” Glasgow City Council’s leader Susan Aitken said.

“Increasing the number of homes powered by renewable or circular energy to 15% by 2030 is an ambitious target but we will need to be ambitious in the coming years.”

The announcement came shortly after a new Zero Waste Scotland report revealed that a nationwide shift away from cradle-to-grave principles could help Scotland unlock a £1bn economic growth opportunity.

Backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the report analyses what would happen if key Scottish regions including Aberdeenshire, Tayside, Edinburgh and Glasgow achieved the aims of the nation’s Zero Waste Plan. The plan, published in 2010, includes goals to achieve a 70% recycling rate for all waste, with a maximum of 5% sent to landfill by 2025.

“The First Minister has announced that the opportunity for Scotland in embracing the circular economy runs into the billions of pounds, and I want Glasgow to be at the forefront of seizing that opportunity,” Aitken added.

“The work done by the Chamber of Commerce and Zero Waste Scotland in Circular Glasgow has already put us far ahead of most of our competitors, but the opportunities really are limitless.”

Climate challenges

The announcement from Glasgow City Council could not have been more timely, with new research from a coalition of six local authorities today (1 November) revealing that key roads, bridges, rail lines and hospitals in the Glasgow area are at significant risk of being damaged or closed by climate change.

The review, carried out by Climate Ready Clyde, warns that the city will be hit by far more frequent and powerful storms, regular heatwaves and more intense flooding by 2050, with climate-related extreme weather events set to affect 1.8 million people.

The study concludes that several major towns such as Hamilton, Motherwell, East Kilbride and Paisley, that are failing to adapt and prepare for climate change could cost the Glasgow region several hundred million pounds a year by the 2050s.

Recent investments in climate-proofing the Glasgow area include Network Rail’s £25m spend on drainage systems and earthworks and the £17m “smart canal” scheme at the Forth & Clyde Canal. Co-funded by Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water, the scheme will see the 250-year-old canal fitted with a pioneering digital surface water drainage system that uses sensor and predictive weather technology to provide early warnings of wet weather. 

 Sarah George

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