£18m to develop SMEs’ circular economy in Scotland

An £18-million fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland explore and pioneer ways to develop circular economy has been launched by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS).

The launch took place on Friday (18 March) 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. The programme is supporting the Scottish Government’s recently-launched circular economy strategy, Making Things Last, which includes a pledge to cut food waste by a third by 2025.

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 such as: sharing, leasing or takeback models, encouraging repair or new recycling ideas.

ZWS will work with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help promote the fund and support businesses that 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. Funding will also be available for reuse, remanufacturing, repair and reprocessing activities.

£18m to develop SMEs’ circular economy in Scotland
CelluComp creates an innovative paint additive that prevents cracking using food processing by-products.
The fund will be open for applications from 1st April 2016 and will be a two stage process.  

A session at the SCDI Forum, chaired by ZWS Chair Vic Emery, was held to discuss ways to harness innovation with circular economy business figures, including Kresse Wesling MBE, co-founder of Elvis and Kresse, which reclaims London fire hoses and other waste materials and converts them into accessories such as bags and belts.

The session also featured 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 ZWS’s Iain Gulland and Ewan Mearns of Scottish Enterprise.

‘The future is circular’

Speaking about the fund, Gulland said: “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 [SMEs] to not just stay ahead of the curve, but shape that curve.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney added: “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.”

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?"

More information can be found at the Zero Waste Scotland’s website.