Minister calls for clarity on Scottish circular economy infrastructure investment

Scotland needs to be clear about the infrastructure needed to deliver a world-leading circular economy, according to the Scottish Government’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee.

Addressing Viridor’s online event ‘From Vision to Reality – converting Scotland’s Circular Economy Leadership into concrete actions to ensure we Build Back Better’ on Wednesday (1 July), Mr McKee said: “Scotland’s climate and environmental priorities are intrinsically linked with economic growth and jobs. They are and must be part of a singular mission.

Viridor ERF Plant“As we plan our strategic economic recovery from Covid-19, now is the time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing. This includes identifying the infrastructure investments this transition will require.

“I am clear that this is not something the Scottish public sector can deliver on its own. Events like today’s help set clear expectations – and this helps to direct those with the knowledge, skills, and investment potential to deliver what Scotland requires.

Viridor’s Innovation and Regulation Director Tim Rotheray said: “The event has created the opportunity for Scotland’s key stakeholders to come together and debate what is needed to move the Scottish circular economy beyond ambition, asking questions, such as: how can regulation and policy drive both an improved economy and better environment? And how can researchers and inventors contribute to addressing the most difficult waste problems?”.

The online event attracted stakeholders across the Scottish government, SEPA, Scottish Enterprise, Zero Waste Scotland, local government, business and academia.
Viridor presented its plans to create a ‘Scottish Circular Economy and Innovation Park’, which would be a testbed for universities, start-ups and Scottish businesses to develop solutions to eliminate waste. The site will be powered by non-recyclable waste and low carbon heat, and convert Scotland’s waste into new products and commodities, creating a zero-waste economy.

Dr Rotheray added that Viridor’s vision for a Scottish Circular Economy and Innovation Park had been designed to deliver both resource and energy efficiency: “Scotland’s resource and emissions reduction goals can be achieved within a single site - the Scottish Circular Economy and Innovation Park which could be located in Dunbar.”

After a week of virtual consultations in April, the company is preparing a planning application to East Lothian Council for a plastics reprocessing plant at Dunbar which would draw heat and power from the energy recovery facility.

In a recorded message to the event delegates, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, said she was delighted to help launch the Scottish Circular Economy and Innovation Park – “an important and practical demonstration of what should be happening”.

She added that the discussions, bringing together all sectors of society to ensure recycling was seen for what it is “a valuable resource and not just rubbish” were to be applauded.

Viridor is also set to open a new £60 million processing plant in Avonmouth soon, taking a significant step towards the company’s aim to process all plastic recycling in the UK.

Leading the change on national circular economy policy, the Scottish government unveiled proposals for a circular economy bill late last year. Recent years have seen the government invest £70 million in the development of the country’s circular economy, with Zero Waste Scotland finding that the adoption of circular business practices could be worth £1 billion.

In 2019, Zero Waste Scotland launched a new website to provide businesses across Scotland with resources they could use to switch to circular economy business models, and launched their ‘Action on Plastics’ initiative, which saw the release £500,000 of funding for projects that aim to tackle the blight of single-use plastic items in Scotland.

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