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Last Thursday (27th of November), I was fortunate enough to attend the VIBES Awards 2014 in Glasgow.  ‘Good vibes’ were certainly in abundance at this annual event which showcases the very best in Scottish environmental innovation in business. It’s always an excellent event, and this year was no different.

Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland | 4 Dec 14

While it was a great opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces, it was great to also meet some new players, and all were worthy of commendation for their dedication and leadership in the field.

Of course a highlight for me was the Circular Economy award, which Zero Waste Scotland sponsored this year.   This award was a new addition to VIBES last year, with Dryden Aqua’s fantastic pioneering work in using recycled green glass to filter water being rewarded. I have no doubt that the category is here to stay, as the Circular Economy becomes more and more of a reality.  My congratulations go to this year’s winner, Soilutions; and also to shortlisted organisations Better World Books and Re-tek Ltd.

While there’s a general appreciation that the current make-use-dispose model isn’t sustainable, sometimes it can feel like the circular economy is an intangible concept.  An approach debated behind closed doors, the merits hashed out by industry academics and policy makers.  But while it’s true to say that there is an important policy and strategy discussion to be had around the circular economy, this award reminds us that there’s also a good deal of action taking place right now – and right here in Scotland. 

The three organisations themselves deal with three very different materials – Soilutions with contaminated soils; Better World Books not surprisingly with books; and Re-tek with electrical and electronic equipment.  Yet all have made a commercially viable operation which is circular in nature a success, living proof that sustainability can go hand in hand with profitability.  Organisations like this are leading the way in building a strong evidence base for a circular economy, demonstrating how the vision can be successfully implemented in practical terms.  This is fantastic to see, and the VIBES Awards provide us with the much-needed opportunity to celebrate their contribution.

As we continue to map out our journey to a circular economy, it’s my hope that leading examples like these will inspire others, and I welcome any organisation which wants to come on board. And that should mean plenty more applicants for future awards.  Keep those Good VIBES coming.

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