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Pioneering Scots firms "not just surviving but thriving" - but every job must be green

Pioneering Scottish firms “not just surviving but thriving” in the pandemic - creating new jobs, skills, products and ways to live and work sustainably to end the waste behind the climate crisis, Zero Waste Scotland said. 

25 Feb 21

Warning that “every job must be green” to eliminate waste and reach net zero, the agency has launched a new podcast setting out a vision of what that means for the way Scots work, live and eat - including urban mining, sofas for life and insect farms.

The publicly-funded non-profit is producing the podcast, called Towards Zero, to share stories about how it’s helping innovative companies and communities across Scotland to do things differently to cut our traditionally wasteful use of resources, and the carbon emissions which wasting anything creates. (Please see Editors’ notes at the end of this release for a full summary of each episode and a link to listen for interview, news and feature ideas).

The first series on the future Scotland needs to build back better includes Renewable Parts, which has been hiring new staff and moving to bigger premises in Argyll as it expands its business refurbishing wind turbines to be reused by the renewables industry.

Bowhouse food hub in Fife has seen trade boom and reduced waste to “almost zero” after switching its market online during lockdown to support traders and customers.

Other guests on the future-themed series include:

Sofa Forlife, a pioneering start-up supported by Zero Waste Scotland to design a sofa that can be made larger or smaller to suit people’s changing homelife. It was inspired by the sight of flytipped furniture in Glasgow to help prevent millions of pieces of furniture being dumped across the country or sent to landfill nationwide each year – all adding to the waste making the climate crisis worse. 

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), the part of National Grid which keeps Britain’s electricity flowing and its lights on, which is working alongside its parent company and the wider energy sector to help drive recruitment of 400,000 new staff across the industry to create the ‘net zero workforce’ needed for the UK to reach net zero, including around 50,000 in Scotland.

Tesco, which along with Zero Waste Scotland is part of a consortium backed by £10m in UK government funding to establish the UK’s first large scale insect farm. The UK’s largest supermarket discusses how feeding food waste to insect larvae can produce sustainable protein as an alternative feed for Scotland’s multimillion-pound fish farms.  

IKEA, which explains why the global furniture store gave its customers cash to help them live more sustainably - and then dropped the amount from £500 to £100 after proving that sustainable shopping really doesn’t cost the Earth. 

The podcasts were launched at the Global Policy Forum – A Sustainable Recovery event organised by the New Statesman and Spotlight earlier this month as Scotland gears up for COP26, the global climate summit taking place in Glasgow later this year. 

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland said: 

“COVID has shown that despite extreme losses and challenges for many we can all do things differently in the face of a global crisis. 

“Pioneering Scottish firms are not just surviving but thriving in the pandemic. The first of the thousands of new sustainable jobs which the green recovery promises are already being created and filled. Firms like Renewable Parts are expanding during lockdown, while businesses like Bowhouse have found ways to beat COVID and the climate crisis simultaneously.

“Insect farms are getting closer to reality in Scotland’s food and drink sector. Our Future of Work report identifies a range of other exciting potential roles across sectors such as construction, where urban miners could play a valuable role in sourcing sustainable materials locally so Scotland can literally build back better.

“The green recovery is underway. But every job has to be green to end the climate crisis. 

“The single greatest cause of the climate crisis here in Scotland is the carbon emissions created by everything we produce, consume and too often bin after just one use. So, to end the climate crisis we need to become zero waste. That means making things last by reducing, reusing, repairing, remaking and finally recycling everything.

“That’s what the circular economy does by keeping resources in a loop of use for as long as possible. There’s no one size fits all solution though. Each business and community needs to find out the greatest cause of their own emissions so they can target their efforts where they’ll bring the biggest wins.  

“Our new podcasts will help everyone do that by sharing inspiring information and ideas so we can all reap the economic, environmental and social rewards of a new, green economy.”

James Barry, chief executive of Renewable Parts Ltd, said: 

“In the true spirit of re-use we converted an ambulance station into a refurbishment centre and are currently in the process of moving into a larger purpose-built facility. Our workforce has increased dramatically in last two years, from two to seven staff, which we couldn’t have done without the strong partnership we have with Zero Waste Scotland.

“We are continuing our investment in our people and expect to grow our team in refurbishment to 30 in the next three years and work with institutions and the wind industry to address the remanufacturing skills gap.” 

An audit of Bowhouse food hub by Zero Waste Scotland before the pandemic found a “shocking” amount of wasted food and energy. Lockdown forced the business to put planned action to reduce that waste on hold, but moving the market online has both kept trade going and prevented almost all produce from being wasted.

Rosie Jack, market and events manager for Bowhouse, said: 

“Pretty quickly after lockdown we set up an online market which lets traders upload their stock so customers can order from that and producers only pick or make and bring what customers have bought – it’s gone really well, it let traders keep going and we now have virtually zero waste.”

Forthcoming series on the Toward Zero podcast include Made in Scotland – A sustainable tour of the nation, which visits companies across the country virtually. Guests range from Highland breweries and bakeries to a Glasgow firm leasing lighting and the Perthshire re-use charity Remake, which is aiming to establish Scotland’s first secondhand shopping mall. 


Notes For Editors

Towards Zero, the new podcast by Zero Waste Scotland, features interesting stories, information and ideas from a wide range of guests, including our own experts, on how everyone can waste less to help end the climate crisis. 

The podcast is available through the usual channels (Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts). 

It’s also available via the new podcast page on Zero Waste Scotland’s website (link here) where you can listen now to the three episodes from the first series on the future of Scotland. 

If you’re interested in interviewing one of Zero Waste Scotland’s experts or any of our guests for broadcast or a feature or news story online or in print, please get in touch (contact details at the end of this release).

Below is a summary of each episode from the first series on the future of Scotland’s food, our homes and work:

Episode 1 - The future of food: 

Insect farming and other ways to reduce food waste and help save the planet

Our guests

Laurence Webb, responsible sourcing manager at Tesco 

Dr William Clark, bioeconomy expert at Zero Waste Scotland

Rosie Jack, market and events manager for Bowhouse food hub in Fife

In this episode, we explore the fascinating future of food. 

Wasted food is a major cause of the climate crisis. Each year in Scotland alone we collectively waste over £1billion worth of food from our homes. Insect farming might sound like a joke but it’s a serious business opportunity to turn Scotland’s waste into value.

We talk to Zero Waste Scotland’s Dr William Clark, who probably knows more than anyone in Scotland about how Scottish insect farms can help to produce the sustainable food supply we need - reducing waste and emissions and creating green jobs too. 

Laurence Webb joins us from Tesco to explain why the UK’s largest supermarket is keen on insect farming too as part of growing efforts to help combat climate change by working with its suppliers to make customers’ shopping far more sustainable.

Rosie Jack from Fife food and drink hub, Bowhouse, also drops in for a chat about how as a small, Scottish business it’s working with Zero Waste Scotland and local food producers to make a big difference to food waste. 

Episode 2 - The future of our homes: Superjackets, sofas for life and smart shopping can all help end the climate crisis

Our guests

Saskia Goeres, creator of Sofa Forlife 

Sharon McCracken, sustainability leader at IKEA

Stephen Boyle, head of construction at Zero Waste Scotland

In this episode, we explore the innovative future of our homes.

Our homes are a key cause of the climate crisis, creating around 40 per cent of UK carbon emissions. Millions of sofas and other types of furniture are illegally dumped or sent to landfill each year in Scotland, creating needless waste and carbon emissions. 

We talk to Saskia Goeres about how the sight of so many abandoned sofas in Glasgow inspired her to create a sofa designed to last a lifetime to help end the climate crisis.

Zero Waste Scotland’s Stephen Boyle drops in to discuss ‘superjackets’ and other more sustainable ways of building better homes.

Sharon McCracken joins us from IKEA to translate the idea of ‘living lagom’ and explain why the global furniture store gave its customers cash to help them live more sustainably - and then dropped the amount from £500 to £100 after proving that sustainable shopping really doesn’t cost the Earth.

Episode 3 - The future of work:

The job that can’t wait – how the energy sector and other industries are doing business differently to end the climate crisis

Our guests

Mark Herring, future net zero workforce lead at National Grid ESO

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland 

James Barry, chief executive of Renewable Parts Ltd  

In this episode, we explore the thriving future of work.

One in ten jobs across Scotland already helps to reduce waste and carbon emissions by keeping limited resources in a loop of use through the circular economy. We need to score ten out of ten if we’re going to end the climate crisis. That brings valuable opportunities to learn, share and adapt new and existing skills and create thousands of new jobs across all sectors nationwide.

We talk to Mark Herring from National Grid ESO about how the UK’s energy sector is recruiting the net zero workforce we need with 400,000 posts nationwide from engineers to data analysts. 

James Barry drops in from Renewable Parts wind turbine refurbishment specialist to share the inspiring story of a sustainable Scottish business which is not just surviving but thriving.

Iain Gulland joins us from Zero Waste Scotland to discuss the challenges and opportunities which doing business differently brings. From homeworking to turning waste from whisky into valuable new products, there are countless ways to help make every job green.

About Zero Waste Scotland: 

Zero Waste Scotland exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change.   

Using evidence and insight, our goal is to inform policy, and motivate individuals and businesses to embrace the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a circular economy.   

We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund. 

More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn 


The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit our website or follow @scotgovESIF. 

For media enquiries contact:

Julia Horton, senior content writer, Zero Waste Scotland 

M 07951 346119

E Julia.horton@zerowastescotland.org.uk 

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