Scotland’s circular economy experts Zero Waste Scotland on Friday (18th March) launched an £18m fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises explore and pioneer ways to develop a circular economy. The launch takes place in collaboration with Scottish Enterprise at a special session of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) forum in St Andrews.
The Circular Economy Investment Fund is part of a wider £70m programme, supported through European Regional Development Funds, which aims to improve business productivity and create a circular economy in Scotland, announced by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister last month. The Scottish Government is taking a lead internationally on this agenda, having recently launched an ambitious strategy for the Circular Economy, Making Things Last.
The fund aims to accelerate the development of business innovation, including support for developing new technologies and the infrastructure needed for a more circular economy which could mean sharing, leasing or takeback models, encouraging repair or new recycling ideas. A circular economy is based on finding high value uses for materials and keeping materials in productive use for as long as possible, instead of simply using and discarding them.
Zero Waste Scotland will work with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help promote the fund and support businesses who could potentially benefit from it. The funding will be spread over three years and be focused on key sectors such as the bio-economy the built environment and energy infrastructure. There will also be funding available for key activities such as reuse, remanufacturing, repair and reprocessing.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
“Across Europe, shifting towards a more circular economy could generate £1.4 trillion of annual benefits by 2030. It presents significant opportunities for Scotland, and that’s why the Scottish Government is showing ambition and commitment in putting support behind the development of circular economy businesses and ideas, and also setting a strategy to drive change. The circular economy is at the heart of the Manufacturing Action Plan recently launched by myself and the First Minister and I urge businesses who have the ideas and the ambition to work with us.”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “We’re genuinely excited to be launching this fund to help businesses and organisations in Scotland seize the opportunities that the circular economy presents. Now is the time to turn big ideas into action. Developing a circular economy places significant emphasis on innovation and new thinking to find high value uses for materials, drive new technologies and develop infrastructure.
“It’s about opening up and stimulating markets to build prosperity that is sustainable, turning waste into wealth and keeping materials in productive use for as long as possible. We know the future is circular and our Circular Economy Investment Fund is available to help all sorts of small to medium size businesses or organisations to not just stay ahead of the curve, but shape that curve.”
Linda Hanna, Managing Director of Strategy and Sectors at Scottish Enterprise, said:
“A circular economy is good for the environment and good for business. Reusing, repairing and sharing resources is proven to increase productivity and stimulate new markets, new products and new services.
“Practically, it means companies often unlock hidden potential from their supply chains and materials and we’re keen to support Scotland’s SMEs to really take hold of this opportunity and help grow their business.”
Zero Waste Scotland Chair Vic Emery will be chairing a session at today’s SCDI Forum to discuss ways to harness innovation and explore these issues with leading circular economy business figures, including Kresse Wesling MBE, co-founder of Elvis and Kresse, a revolutionary circular business which reclaims London fire hoses and other previously waste materials and turns them into luxury accessories.
The session also features Kennedy Miller, Technology and Sustainability Manager from Brand-Rex, a company employing circular initiatives in cabling solutions and Eric Whale, Director of CelluComp, which produces a multi-use nano-fibre from agri-waste, as well as Zero Waste Scotland’s Iain Gulland and Ewan Mearns of Scottish Enterprise.
Kresse Wesling MBE, Co-Founder, Elvis & Kresse said:
“There is now, thankfully, a global understanding of our planetary limits. The only kind of business model that can grow and flourish indefinitely within these limits is a circular one. This requires you to account for all of your resources, all of your externalities; you must ensure that everything you use is cherished, and can continue to be cherished forever. You can’t use anything up. We will be the first to admit that this is an enormous challenge, but isn’t that what makes it exciting?”
Interested organisations should go to the Zero Waste Scotland website for more information and to apply. The fund will be open for applications from 1st April 2016 and will be a two stage process, available at www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/circular-economy