Turning “waste into wealth” with launch of Circular North-east

A major new initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Aberdeen city region identify and capitalise on circular economy opportunities has been launched by Zero Waste Scotland and Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Details of the support for local SMEs through the initiative, which is backed by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), were revealed at a business breakfast and seminar at the Ultimate Business Show in Aberdeen. The Chamber will deliver a range of local activities to help identify opportunities for local business and direct them towards available support and funding.

A circular economy is one in which we eradicate waste by keeping resources and products in use for as long as possible. It offers opportunities to Scottish business to develop new products and services which promote repeated use, not single-use – for example: leasing, repair, or take-back services, or designing new products from another industry’s ‘waste’.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “I’m delighted to announce Zero Waste Scotland is joining forces with Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce to launch Circular North-east, an ambitious initiative to unlock the potential for SMEs in the region, by thinking innovatively about business models.

“The circular economy has the potential, through transforming our use of resources, and our ways of doing business, to create jobs and help the environment. Across Europe, a circular economy could generate £1.4 trillion of annual benefits,” said Gulland.

“Circular North-east is a terrific opportunity to help businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in making the transition to a circular economy.”

Circular North-east will be delivered by the Chamber of Commerce, who have appointed Terri Vogt as project manager. Terri joins the Chamber after working in the environmental field for almost 30 years providing consultancy across the public and private sectors.

Terri Vogt, Circular North-East project manager, said: “Our new partnership with Zero Waste Scotland will show north east SMEs how they could turn waste into wealth. Our linear economy has relied on cheap, accessible raw materials and cheap disposal routes. However, as raw materials are used up, costs will rise. The amount of potentially reusable material we are throwing away has considerable value.

“At its core, the circular economy requires a change in thinking. Re-use, re-manufacturing, refurbishment and business models that keep products in the economy for as long as possible make good economic sense. This is about growing the north-east economy, promoting the diversification of businesses and driving innovation to identify new business opportunities.”

The announcement follows the recent news that Scotland has been chosen to host the Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland, a major international trade mission, taking place from 30 October to 1 November this year.

Circular North-east complements Zero Waste Scotland’s nationwide support for SMEs to develop circular economy business ideas, including its £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund and Circular Economy Business Support Service.

The initiative is part of the Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which will invest £27million in Scotland in circular economy projects until December 2019, thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Zero Waste Scotland leads on delivery of the £73 million Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which aims to improve the economic performance of SMEs while at the same time reducing the impact of economic activity on the natural environment, supporting Scottish Government and EU policies.