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Bringing business into the circle

With a landmark, headline-grabbing announcement from Scotland’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister on Monday, on major new investment to develop a circular economy on our shores, this has been a key week for the advancement of circular policy at a national level. 

Iain Gulland | 19 Feb 16

There is no doubt that Scotland is fully committed to making the transition to a circular economy where the benefits in terms of business competitiveness and the creation of high-quality employment are as significant as the environmental impacts in tackling climate change.

Progress has been swift. Last year the circular economy was embedded for the first time in Scottish economic strategy, the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing was established and a number of early adopter businesses came together to create a Circular Economy Business Network.

Now, we have significant government and EU funding dedicated to accelerating and expanding the circular economy amongst more businesses, specifically SMEs. And I await the imminent announcement of the Scottish Government’s much-anticipated Circular Economy Strategy, Make Things Last, which will set the policy direction for the whole country.

The injection of up to £70m of new money, including £30 from the European Regional Development Fund, gives ourselves and our partners in Scottish Enterprise & HIE the wherewithal to roll out an exciting offering to organisations in Scotland so that the identified benefits for key sectors and individual businesses can be realised.

I’m proud that Zero Waste Scotland will be at the forefront of delivery, and of bringing businesses on board through a Circular Economy Investment Fund and Service. It will help SMEs and other organisations develop innovative business models, technologies and infrastructure.

I’m also pleased that we have focused on delivering the evidence which demonstrates Scotland’s key advantages and opportunities in this area – our structural advantages (such as Scotland’s size and skills base) and our advantages in having key sectors, such as the bio-economy, textiles and oil & gas, which are ideally placed to re-align themselves to more circular methods of operation. 

I’ve noted how several small business are already adopting different kinds of circular models to create or exploit new businesses opportunities which Scotland needs in order to thrive and carve out a niche in a hugely competitive world, into the future.

These range from East Kilbride IT firm Retek which offers a takeback scheme, to the Loch Fyne Oyster Company, which is using by-products from fin-fish aquaculture as nutrients for other organisms to remanufacturing firms like Mackie’s Transmission in Glasgow.

There is always talk of ‘sustainability’ when it comes to economic strategy but businesses like these represent a truly sustainable economic future for Scotland, both in the sense that they are based here with all the benefits that entails, as well as making better use of our natural resources and reducing the impact on our environment.

As lifestyles adapt to the imperatives of resource scarcity and climate change, people’s needs are inevitably changing. Clever businesses and innovators can get ahead of the curve and make a mark for themselves, their workforce and their communities. The future is not only bright it’s also exciting.

For more information and to register interest in applying for funding or support through the new circular economy programme, please visit www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/circular-economy

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