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Circular economy in cities and regions

Due to the population and resource density in a small geographic area, cities are an ideal location for new circular business models.

Scotland is home to a diverse and rich range of cities and regions. From our bustling cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh to the more sparsely populated Highlands and Islands, all with a distinct collection of industries, businesses and communities. As part of Zero Waste Scotland’s ambition for Scotland to embrace a circular economy we are exploring opportunities, engaging and supporting at a local level. This approach, in addition to supporting key sectors, will allow us to encourage responsible production where we 'make, use, remake' as opposed to 'make, use, dispose'.

For Scotland to fully embrace a circular economy, Zero Waste Scotland is aware that a variety of support approaches will be required. We are delivering support using a place-based approach, to nurture the development of the circular economy at a local level. 

By concentrating on a specific geographical area, we can understand and raise awareness of the benefits of a circular approach, support opportunities in ‘horizontal’ sectors, build relationships with local stakeholders and link with other relevant activity taking place on a regional and local level. e.g. City Region Deals, regional economic development priorities, sustainability goals. 

The challenges in building a circular economy are big but so are the benefits to businesses, to communities and to the planet

The benefits of a place-based approach 

A place-based approach to developing the circular economy in Scotland encourages and enables local flexibility to respond to issues and opportunities in different places. It helps overcome organisational and sectoral boundaries, encouraging collaboration and community involvement. 

A collaborative, place-based approach with a shared purpose will allow the public and private sector across Scotland to support a clear way forward for circular economy policies, developments and investments. 

Our work in this area

Zero Waste Scotland is working in partnership with organisations in five areas, as part of its Circular Cities and Regions programme, to deliver a tailored programme of business engagement to identify and exploit the key sectors and businesses for circular growth. 


All businesses will need to be circular in the future to stay viable – those who can do so first will have a competitive advantage.

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