Scotland invests £70 million to develop circular economy

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new £70-million programme to develop and grow the circular economy in Scotland, as part of a package of measures to boost manufacturing in Scotland.

The Circular Economy Investment Fund and Service, to be delivered by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and Scottish Enterprise, aims to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) develop innovative technologies, business models and infrastructure – from proof of concept stage through to implementation. It will also offer development support to businesses seeking to redesign their processes and products, and implement resource efficiency measures.

The programme, which starts from 1 April, will offer more than £70 million of investment – including £30 million from the European Regional Development Fund. ZWS hopes this will enable companies to capture new opportunities presented by a move to a more circular economy across a range of sectors, including manufacturing.

A new manufacturing strategy, A Manufacturing Future for Scotland, outlines how government will work with industry and with higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, improve productivity and increase investment in Scottish manufacturing.

‘Foundations to build an ever more sustainable future’

Speaking during a visit to Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank yesterday (15 February), Sturgeon said: “Scotland has a long and proud manufacturing heritage and manufacturing must also be a key driver of our future prosperity. The products we make, from pharmaceuticals to textiles, represent over 50 per cent of our international exports and 54 per cent of our expenditure on research and development.

“Our Programme for Government committed us to further action and backed by £70 million of new circular economy funding, the Action Plan outlines how the Scottish Government, our Enterprise Agencies and Zero Waste Scotland will work with industry and higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, productivity and investment. Amongst the key actions in the strategy will be the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Manufacturing which will act as a hub for continuous innovation to ensure Scotland remains a sustainable and competitive place to do business.”

Commenting on the announcement, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “A circular economy provides an opportunity to support the competitiveness of our manufacturing base and attract investment – through eradicating waste and becoming more efficient in our design and manufacturing processes to extend product lifecycles.

“The Circular Economy Investment Fund and Circular Economy Service will offer vital support to manufacturers that are seeking to develop processes and products that improve the economic performance of SMEs while at the same time reducing the impact of economic activity on the natural environment, in line with Scottish Government and EU policies.

“The Scottish Government will shortly publish our circular economy strategy – Making Things Last – which will set out in more detail our priorities for delivering the economic, environmental and social benefits of a more circular economy.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive at ZWS said: “This new funding and support package will push boundaries in business innovation to develop circular models that will keep products in use for longer and ultimately save precious raw materials and resources.

“This makes great economic as well as environmental sense. By investing now, the Scottish Government is putting down foundations to build an ever more sustainable future – one that is resource efficient and most definitely circular.”

To register interest in applying for funding or support, or for more information, visit the ZWS website.

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