SMALL and medium-sized businesses in Scotland will be helped to explore ways of developing a circular economy through a £18 million fund.
Zero Waste Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its circular economy strategy and other low carbon priorities, launched the fund 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.
Last month First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy FM John Swinney announced Making Things Last, the Scottish Government’s strategy for fostering a circular economy where materials are kept in productive use for as long as possible, instead of simply using and discarding them.
Zero Waste Scotland will work with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help promote the fund and support businesses who 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. There will also be funding available for key activities such as reuse, remanufacturing, repair and reprocessing.
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 which could mean sharing, leasing or takeback models, encouraging repair or new recycling ideas.
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, 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 small to medium size businesses or organisations to not just stay ahead of the curve, but shape that curve.”
Deputy FM John Swinney said: “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.”
Kresse Wesling MBE, co-founder of Elvis & Kresse, a firm that reclaims more than 10 different materials, 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. We will be the first to admit that this is an enormous challenge, but isn’t that what makes it exciting?”
Interested organisations should go to the Zero Waste Scotland website for more information and to apply.