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Why we need a circular economy

An attractive proposition for business and the economy.

The world’s population is expected to peak at 10bn in 2050. Our resources, the earth’s raw materials, are not limitless.

As a result, global labour and raw material costs are on the increase.

Circular economy business opportunities can offer new ways to mitigate these risks to allow your business to grow and diversify. In a circular economy, products and materials keep circulating in a high value state of use, through supply chains, for as long as possible.

For this reason, “making things last” is a moral, environmental and economic imperative. 

Moving to a circular economy will contribute to the Scottish Government’s aim of sustainable economic growth.  It has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials.

Developing a circular economy in Scotland will help to protect our economy against exposure to resource supply risks and volatile commodity prices. By keeping products and materials in use in Scotland for longer we will be more resilient to global resource pressures.

In 2015, the Scottish Government launched its first Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland titled “Making Things Last” in which the priorities for moving towards a more circular economy were set out.  

The four priority areas identified for action were:

  • Food and drink (and the wider bioeconomy),
  • Remanufacture,
  • Construction,
  • Energy infrastructure 

The benefits

The main benefit of having a circular economy is the same as the reason why it is needed: that once operational, a circular economy is a practical solution to the world’s emerging resource crisis.

Evidence suggests that adopting the circular economy could be worth up to £1.5bn to Scotland’s economy and save around 11 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year by 2050.  

Benefits to business include increased productivity, resilience and innovation

The circular economy is a £3 billon opportunity for business offering:

  • A solution to resource scarcity
  • Sustainable economic growth
  • Additional income generation opportunities
  • Less exposure to volatile commodity prices and resource supply risks
  • Efficient production and reduced costs
  • Strong and loyal customer relationships
  • Stimulating product and supply chain innovation
  • Job creation through a wider range of customer services

Benefits for consumers and wider society

  • Lower priced goods e.g. clothing, food and drinks
  • Job creation and new jobs requiring new skills
  • Less waste going to landfill
  • Producer responsibility for waste – putting the onus on the manufacturer to dispose of waste instead of the consumer for a whole range of products has the potential to significantly influence producer and consumer choices, levering actions that would contribute to a more circular economy
  • Carbon savings now and for future generations 

A growing call for change…

Key experts in business development, economic growth and the field of circular economy thinking agree.  Here’s why it matters to them: 

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