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Benefits of a circular economy

Report outlines economic opportunities.

16 Jan 15

Scotland can capitalise on the industrial and economic opportunities of a more circular economy, according to a report published today.

The Circular Economy Scotland report, by the Green Alliance, sets out how the country’s unique strengths in sectors such as oil and gas and the food and drink industry could unlock hundreds of millions of pounds worth of value from the materials used in these sectors. 

For example, the report identifies a potential £140 million opportunity converting whisky by-products into feed for the fish farming industry. It also suggests re-using steel from decommissioned oil and gas rigs instead of melting it down for recycling which, as well as generating an economic return, could cut associated carbon emissions by over 80 per cent. 

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, said:

“The circular economy presents a tremendous opportunity for Scotland’s long term economic prospects. Today’s report highlights some of the potential benefits for a number of Scotland’s key industries and I look forward to discussion on these issues in the coming months. This also marks the start of a six-month period of engagement and debate led by the Scottish Government on the opportunities of a more circular economy

“We are all used to recycling our waste and taking steps to use less energy and reduce emissions. But we now need to go further and look at designing goods and products that can be reused, repaired and remanufactured. 

“Scotland is already recognised internationally as an early mover towards a more circular economy. To maintain that momentum, we need to bring the concept to life for businesses, the public sector and consumers and show what a more circular approach means in practice. That means exploring the different business models, skills and systems we need in our industries, and looking at the best way to help consumers reuse, repair and recycle in their homes and communities.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Zero Waste Scotland welcomes the focus on the circular economy and we look forward to contributing to and encouraging debate. The circular economy is coming to prominence in discussions about Scotland’s future, because of the economic opportunities and environmental benefits it presents. Reliance on increasingly scarce resources will have a huge cost implication for Scotland in years to come, if we don’t adapt. 

“This new report shows that, by moving to a more circular economic model, there are tremendous opportunities to secure and grow businesses in key sectors, securing and creating jobs, and a sustainable economic future.”

Dustin Benton of the Green Alliance, author of the report, said: 

“Scotland is a long way ahead of other parts of the UK in its policy support for resource productivity. Its track record of success in renewables, combined with its research strengths and business support bodies, put it in a strong position to develop the technologies needed to capture high value, innovative manufacturing opportunities in a circular economy.”

Ross Martin, Chief Executive, SCDI said:

"Rising resource risks and the search for greater productivity has led many businesses to re-examine their relationship with 'waste' and reposition it as a valuable resource to be retained and re-captured. A range of innovative circular economy solutions and new business models have now emerged, enabling greater reuse, remanufacturing and recycling while creating new opportunities for growth. Scotland must ensure it remains at the forefront of developing these innovative and responsible approaches to economic production to remain globally competitive and ensure business security now and in the future.

“Many Scottish businesses are already benefitting from circular economy approaches, however, more must be encouraged to innovate and unlock greater economic growth while reducing waste, saving carbon emissions and increasing business resilience to future price shocks. SCDI welcomes the Scottish Government's commitment to the circular economy vision, and looks forward to participating in this period of civic discussion to ensure Scotland's economy remains sustainable and prosperous over the long-term."

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