Scotland’s remanufacturing sector could be entering a “golden era” with an innovative new research centre announced by the Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, at the Scottish Resources Conference.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has highlighted the role that high-value products and materials such as gold and electronic components, could play in the Scottish economy, if they are harnessed from disused TVs, mobile phones and computers.
The Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will be a pan-Scottish hub which will focus on realising the vast value in the materials and components within the products we recycle.
The announcement was made during the Environment Secretary’s speech at the Scottish Resources Conference, which is delivered by CIWM and Zero Waste Scotland, which is dedicated to Scotland’s resources industry.
Lochhead – “By bringing a more circular approach to the way we manage our resources, we can change that. And by channelling expertise into better remanufacturing, we can ensure that valuable components can be recovered and reused”
The conference is designed to keep members of the public and organisations operating within the resources sector, up to date with current issues influencing the Scottish resources industry.
The event also provides individuals with the opportunity to network with more than 200 peers.Editors
The Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will be hosted by the University of Strathclyde and run in partnership with Heriot Watt University.
The £1.3m funding is over three years, with £1m from the Scottish Funding Council and £300k from Zero Waste Scotland. Companies based in Scotland have already pledged over £800k of funding, or in-kind support, for potential research projects for the Institute.
The estimated value of remanufacturing to the UK is £2.4-5.6bn (source: UK All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group).
International companies such as Renault are already remanufacturing gearboxes using 80 percent less energy and creating 75 percent less waste than those made with new components. Within Scotland, over 60 companies are already active in remanufacturing across a variety of sectors such as automotive, electronics, energy infrastructure, aerospace and marine services.
It is estimated that between now and 2020, Scotland will import £50m worth of gold through TVs, mobile phones and computers.
Scottish Materials Brokerage Service
Lochhead also confirmed the creation of a Scottish Materials Brokerage Service – a one stop shop to grow Scotland’s reprocessing sector, and help the public sector to get a better deal for the recycled materials collected from their communities.
Lochhead said: “It is astounding that an estimated £50m worth of gold will potentially be wasted in Scotland in the next five years through disposal of electronics like computers and phones. By bringing a more circular approach to the way we manage our resources, we can change that. And by channelling expertise into better remanufacturing, we can ensure that valuable components can be recovered and reused.
“Scotland can become an international leader on innovative waste solutions by creating a greener, more circular economy. I look forward to seeing further progress down this path with these two innovative schemes”
“The Scottish Government is serious about creating a greener, more circular economy, where our valuable products and materials remain in useful circulation for longer, creating and sustaining jobs in the process.
“The challenge is to re-design products to make it easier to take them apart and remanufacture them into new products, and harness their true value. We need Scotland’s brightest and best minds to be focussed on achieving this more circular use of valuable products and materials and that is what the new Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will do.
“Our Materials Brokerage Service – the first of its kind in the UK – will see supply and demand for high value recycling matched up, providing certainty of supply for investors and certainty of demand for local authorities. Scotland’s public sector handles almost 3m tonnes of waste materials per year.
“We need to ensure these materials get to the right place and the Brokerage Service will enable the resources collected by councils to be channelled into higher value use, while providing a good deal for the public sector and improving our recycling rates.
“Scotland can become an international leader on innovative waste solutions by creating a greener, more circular economy. I look forward to seeing further progress down this path with these two innovative schemes.”
Responding to Mr Lochhead’s speech, Steve Lee, chief executive of CIWM, said: “At the time the 2013 recycling figure was announced, we recognised and commended the strength of policy and support for recycling in Scotland and we welcome this renewed commitment from Scottish Government today to improving performance at a time when recycling is flatlining in many parts of the UK.
“It is not just about collection rates, however, and CIWM is also encouraged to see that Scotland is thinking strategically about recovered materials and is creating a groundbreaking brokerage service. We hope that this will not only help to drive up materials quality and value, but will also stimulate end markets and local reprocessing infrastructure.”
Linda Ovens – “Remanufacturing is, as the Cabinet Secretary said, still something of a cinderella sector but it has a critical role to play in supporting the shift up the waste hierarchy and towards a more circular economy”
CIWM has also welcomed the new Scottish Institute of Remanufacture, which Lochhead explained will focus expertise on the challenge of re-designing products for disassembly and remanufacture.
“Remanufacturing is, as the Cabinet Secretary said, still something of a cinderella sector but it has a critical role to play in supporting the shift up the waste hierarchy and towards a more circular economy,” said CIWM Scotland’s chair Linda Ovens. “By drawing together experts from academia and business, particularly SMEs, this centre of excellence will not only support innovation and sustainable economic growth in Scotland but also across the UK and beyond.”
Touching on the broader circular economy agenda and the European Commission’s recent Circular Economy Communication, Lochhead also affirmed that Scotland has its own voice and that the country’s ambitions will not be held in check by “UK apathy”.
Responding to this strong message, Linda Ovens added: “The tenor of Mr Lochhead’s address clearly shows that Scotland intends to maintain its ambitious approach, and CIWM Scotland commends the Scottish Government on turning strong leadership and vision into both long term policy and practical support initiatives. This in turn creates confidence, and allows our sector to grow, to invest and to push the boundaries of what is possible as we work to meet the challenge of creating a more circular economy.”