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Circular Economy Hotspot will tell Scotland’s story to the world

The circular economy can be hard to define – but the stories on show at this year’s Hotspot will bring it to life.

Iain Gulland | 7 Sep 18

One of the routine frustrations for those of us advocating for a more circular economy is how hard it can be to sum up in a few words. If you work in the circular economy — whether you’re promoting it, funding it, or running a circular business of your own — you will know how tricky it can be explain to the uninitiated. But for all that, the ideas behind the circular economy really come alive when you tell people stories that embody it.

One such story is ongoing in Scotland's whisky industry. Whisky is one of Scotland’s most famous exports - but it’s not just Scotland’s national drink that comes out of the nation’s world-renowned distilleries. For every bottle of whisky destined to be enjoyed in a bar or at home, there’s also a range of by-products like “draff”, “pot ale” and “spent lees”. While some might view these as mere waste, in the circular economy, these are opportunities and the industry has managed to find a home for them as products like animal feed. With innovative businesses like Celtic Renewables and Xanthella also working to turn them into biofuels and fish feed, we’re on track to making whisky an industry in which nothing is wasted.

It’s stories like this that will be on show at the Circular Economy Hotspot. Following large-scale inaugural events in The Netherlands and Luxembourg, I’m excited that Scotland won the right to hold this year’s Hotspot, which Zero Waste Scotland is hosting in Glasgow from 30 October to 1 November. It’s both an honour for Scotland to be hosting this prestigious event and further evidence of our burgeoning reputation as a leading circular economy nation on the world stage. Scotland has already been awarded for its efforts, picking up the award for Circular Economy Nations and Regions from the World Economic Forum at the high-profile Circulars Awards in 2017.

Just as stories are the best way to make sense of the circular economy, there's no alternative to seeing businesses in practice. Getting out of the office and visiting the people that are making it all happen is one of the real highlights of my job and I want to share that with as many people as possible. We’re keen to show the world some of the great work that’s being done here in Scotland to make the circular economy a reality. That’s why we’ll be leaving the conference hall behind for a day and seeing how it’s done in real life.

Hotspot delegates get the chance to sign up for a Discovery Tour, where they will spend the day meeting with businesses in a sector of their choice. It’s a sign of how far the circular economy has come that we’re able to work with such a diverse range of partners. From the bioeconomy to manufacturing, food and drink to the hot topic of plastics, delegates will have an impressive range of options when choosing their tour.

These visits will be a chance to learn from those that are already putting the circular economy into practice. This isn’t just a question of doing the right thing for the environment. The Scottish Government has made clear that going circular is central to its vision for the future of Scotland’s economy and it’s an area that is rife with opportunities for growth.

So come along to the Hotspot and hear the stories for yourselves. 

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