Scotland’s circular economy to be supported by new research hub

The first major research institute in Europe tasked with growing remanufacturing businesses and driving the circular economy has opened today (21 January) in Scotland.

The Scottish Institute for Remanufacture, based at university of Strathclyde in Glasgow, is being funded for the next three years by £1.3m from the Scottish Funding Council and Zero Waste Scotland. Scottish companies have also already pledged over £800k in funding or in-kind support.

“We want to move away from the current situation where valuable materials often go to waste, to a circular economy where things are designed to be used over and over again,” Said Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead. “This approach can create jobs and stimulate growth, and I am keen to hear ideas about how best to make the most of the opportunities that a circular economy can offer Scotland. Remanufacturing – which will be driven forward in Scotland thanks to this fantastic new institute – will be at the heart of this agenda.”

Remanufacturing is the process of rebuilding and returning products or components to at least ‘as-new’ quality and specification are given the same or similar guarantees as equivalent new products. The sector is already estimated to be worth £2.4bn to the UK economy and is common practise for various industrial products in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors, but experts claim this approach could be expanded into other industries.

Opportunity knocks

Zero Waste Scotland pledged in November last year to provide financial and technical support to firms wanting to develop a circular economy business model, including a £3.8m Scottish recycling fund and the Circular Economy Textiles and Apparel Grant Fund offering textile designers up to £5000 each to design products that ‘close the loop’.

Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “Remanufacturing presents tremendous opportunities for creating jobs, businesses and a sustainable economy in Scotland built on a circular model, where we keep increasingly scarce resources in productive use as long as possible.”

A report by WRAP and Green Alliance released just yesterday claims that on the current circular economy development path, the remanufacturing sector could require an extra 205,000 jobs, reduce unemployment by around 54,000 and offset 11% of future job losses in skilled employment by 2030.

The Institute will be hosted by the University of Strathclyde but will draw capabilities from other major Scottish research institutions to build capacity and innovation. A steering committee made up of industry and research experts will be appointed.

Lucinda Dann

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