Establishing a more circular economy for Scotland is a huge opportunity to boost Scottish jobs, manufacturing and meet environmental targets, the Scottish Parliament heard yesterday (14 May) from a panel of experts.
The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee took evidence on the matter from Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Education Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and SEPA, who collectively told the committee that a circular economy – where materials and resources flow in a cycle of re-use rather than being wasted or landfilled – holds huge potential for Scotland and should be a top priority for government, industry and the education system.
The evidence-giving comes on the same day as Zero Waste Scotland hosts a joint event with Decom North Sea in Aberdeen to explore the benefits of moving towards a circular economy in Scotland¹s oil and gas industry.
Oil and gas decommissioning has been identified as a key area in which circular economy business models could yield significant economic and environmental benefits.
The discussion focused on how to retain the value of materials in Scotland, so that they are reprocessed by Scottish companies and re-used by Scottish companies, creating economic opportunities.
Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland – “By establishing a more circular economy in Scotland – where goods are firstly designed with future re-use in mind, and then recycled and remanufactured to be used again – we can maximise the value of resources in our economy, and embed sustainability in the way we do business”
The importance of designing products to be easily repaired and re-used, and then at end of life to be broken down to re-use the materials efficiently was also discussed.
The issue of planned obsolescence of technology was addressed, and new business models along with the potential for a greater focus on leasing products rather than selling them so that manufacturers can retain the value of the materials in appliances such as washing machines or fridges.
Remanufacturing products, where a part such as a car engine is returned to a factory to be reconditioned to be as new or even better than new, was also identified as a big opportunity for Scottish industry – as was public procurement, as a potential way to enable these kinds of opportunities to start be introduced more widely in Scotland.
Director of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland said: “The current linear economic model, where we produce, consume and discard, is simply not the best way to extract the full value of resources and maximise economic and environmental gains in Scotland. By establishing a more circular economy in Scotland – where goods are firstly designed with future re-use in mind, and then recycled and remanufactured to be used again – we can maximise the value of resources in our economy, and embed sustainability in the way we do business.
“There are opportunities to exploit in most key industries in Scotland. Decommissioning activities within the oil and gas industry, a sector which is expected to cost between £35 to £50 billion between now and 2040, is a great example of potential opportunities to do things in a more economical and sustainable way – by choosing re-use or remanufacture over recycling, designing for a longer life cycle, and alternative business models such as leasing, for example.
“A circular economy will not only help shield businesses from fluctuations in price and availability of key resources, but there are huge opportunities for business growth for those who can capitalise on the need to repair, reprocess, and remanufacture materials and products. This would create jobs and economic growth for Scotland.”