Scotland well-placed to benefit from circular economy, report finds

16th January 2015


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Author

Neil Cleverly

Scotland's strengths in sectors such as oil and gas could unlock "hundreds of millions of pounds" of value from materials they use, according to a report by the Green Alliance.

The report, which was commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland with support from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, looked at how to make the Scottish economy more circular by assessing potential opportunities in three sectors: oil and gas, food and drink, and finance.

Opportunities identified by Green Alliance include converting whisky by-products into feed for the fish-farming industry, which is estimated to be worth around £1,500 a tonne.

Decommissioning offshore oil and gas assets is estimated to cost up to £35-50 billion by 2040, but some of the cost could be recovered by reusing infrastructure, in particular for carbon capture and storage, the report suggests.

To enable partnerships between different industries to reuse each others' waste, Scotland needs a "targeted, challenge-led innovation strategy", the report recommends. It advocates involving bodies such as Zero Waste Scotland or Scottish Enterprise agencies in such initiatives as a way of driving technically risky, but potentially big win pilot projects.

The report outlines how "challenge-led" models have already proved successful in driving innovation on other environmental issues. It highlights the example of a challenge run by the Confederation of European Paper Industries, which used two teams of scientists and business people to devise a way of reducing the industry's CO2 emissions by 80%, while increasing the amount for which they can sell their products by 50%.

Dustin Benton, senior policy advisor at Green Alliance and author of the report, said: "Scotland is a long way ahead of other parts of the UK in its policy support for resource productivity.

"Its track record of success in renewables, combined with its research strengths and business support bodies, put it in a strong position to develop the technologies needed to capture high-value, innovative manufacturing opportunities in a circular economy."

Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for the environment, commented: "The report highlights some of the potential benefits for a number of Scotland's key industries and I look forward to discussion on these issues in the coming months. This also marks the start of a six-month period of engagement and debate led by the Scottish government on the opportunities of a more circular economy."

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