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New report highlights 27million tonnes of ‘bio’ material that could add value to Scotland’s economy

New data from Zero Waste Scotland aims to drive investment in line with the country’s circular economy ambitions by highlighting the scale of opportunity in the bioeconomy sector.

25 Oct 17

A new report, Biorefining Potential for Scotland, provides the most detailed insight yet into the circular economy opportunities for waste and by-products generated in Scotland.

Scotland is recognised as a world-leader on the circular economy, which aims to design out waste by keeping materials and products in high-value use for as long as possible. Maximising value from ‘bio’ resources is identified as a priority area with the greatest opportunity to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for Scotland in the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy, Making Things Last. It is estimated an additional £500–£800million could be generated for Scotland’s economy by using food and drink by-products alone.

With the right investment, residues from whisky production such as pot ale, food waste from households and hospitality, agricultural residues such as animal manure and unused or misshapen fruit and vegetables, and even wastewater sludge from sewage treatment facilities could be put to good use.

Biorefining Potential for Scotland shows the extent of opportunity for development, with millions of tonnes of valuable material available in Scotland that could be captured and put to high-value use. It also highlights opportunities for new job creation in Scotland, particularly in rural and coastal areas where many of the waste materials arise.

The publication of the report coincides with the launch of a dedicated support service, delivered by Scottish Enterprise. The Scottish Bio-Resource Support Service provides data on type, quantity and location of ‘bio’ materials available in Scotland. The service will also will help companies to learn of the range of support and funding available to help develop and realise forward journeys for high-value materials to be kept in use.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:

'I am delighted that this report shows there are huge opportunities for Scottish business in biorefining. We need to stop seeing waste and start seeing opportunities.

'These resources are important and can make high-value chemical products like plastics, paints, plane parts and aviation fuels, with Scotland now considered to be a leader in industrial biotechnology development.

'The Scottish Government and our agencies are committed to helping businesses seize these and other opportunities in the circular economy. Zero Waste Scotland’s £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund and the newly launched Scottish Bio-Resource Service delivered by Scottish Enterprise are key to this.'

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

'Scotland is building an impressive portfolio of circular economy business models, with entrepreneurs already offering products as diverse as fuel from whisky by-products and beer from unsold bread on the commercial market. This report will help showcase our burgeoning portfolio to a global audience – as well as demonstrating the opportunities available to develop new, sustainable and profitable circular economy businesses in Scotland.'

Caroline Strain, industrial biotechnology lead at Scottish Enterprise, said:

'The Biorefining Potential for Scotland analysis confirms that Scotland has significant, valuable bio-resources. As these feedstocks could enable a transition from fossil to bio-based materials, this will be a crucial factor in helping Scotland achieve its ambitions to create a sustainable high value chemical manufacturing sector. We look forward to working with businesses, partners and bio entrepreneurs seeking to capitalise on this untapped bio wealth.'

Zero Waste Scotland has widespread support available to help Scottish businesses develop circular economy models and services, including through the £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund. Zero Waste Scotland also operates the Circular Economy Business Support Service, which delivers tailored one-to-one support for small businesses to help them develop more circular business models.

Both are supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.


Notes For Editors

Additional facts and figures

  • Aberdeenshire, Highland, Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders contribute almost two thirds of all Scotland’s agricultural residues.
  • Scotland’s seven cities account for over 50% of the country’s total waste, and the combined hubs of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen give rise to upwards of 500,000 tonnes of potential organic feedstock.
  • Urban bio-resources, including food waste and residues from whisky production, have bio-refining potential due to a combination of scale, geographical concentration and the complexity of their carbohydrate and protein content versus other bio-resources.
  • Significant losses are estimated to occur in Scottish supply chains for potatoes and carrots. Some 66,000 tonnes of potatoes go unused or are landfilled each year, amounting to a £27million economic loss. The equivalent figures for carrots are 68,000 tonnes and £27million.

Editor’s Notes

  • The 27million tonnes of bio-material identified in Biorefining Potential for Scotland includes waste and by-products that represent potential feedstocks for bio-refining. It does not include marine or forestry waste.
  • Biorefining Potential for Scotland builds on earlier work by Zero Waste Scotland to quantify potential investment opportunities in the Scottish bioeconomy. It is one of the key actions identified in the Biorefinery Roadmap for Scotland, published by Scottish Enterprise in 2015, which aims for a fourfold increase in current industrial bioeconomy turnover to £900million, and an increase in the number of firms participating in the sector from 80 to 200, by 2025.
  • The Scottish Bio-Resource Support Service is available via phone on 0300 013 3385, or by emailing SBRSS@scotent.co.uk

About Zero Waste Scotland

  • Zero Waste Scotland exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. Our goal is to help Scotland realise the economic, environmental and social benefits of making best use of the world’s limited natural resources. We are funded to support delivery of the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy and the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy.
  • Zero Waste Scotland launched the Resource Efficient Scotland programme in 2013 to help small to medium sized businesses and organisations save money and energy by using resources more efficiently. It is funded by the European Structural Funds Programme and the Scottish Government. Find out more at www.resourceefficientscotland.org.uk
  • The Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme Fund is administered by Zero Waste Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit the website or follow @scotgovESIF.
  • More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at www.zerowastescotland.org.uk. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland though via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | Google Plus | LinkedIn

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