The CAs driving the circular economy

By Andy Harbison, CA Today

30 November 2016

Recycling has become a part of our everyday lives. Bottles, paper, cardboard and food waste are all widely recyclable.

But imagine a future where recycling is a thing of the past. A world where there is no waste to recycle in the first place. A world where products are built to last or be broken down to create something new, and where biological bi-products are turned into something that is both useful and valuable.

That is the vision of Lynn Murray CA and John Watt CA of Zero Waste Scotland, and they are beginning to see more businesses realising the benefits of the circular economy.

“You’ve got to be moving towards the ultimate target. It has to be zero waste,” says Lynn, Head of Finance and Corporate Services at Zero Waste Scotland.

“We want to live in a world where nothing is wasted,” says John (pictured below), a non-executive Director.

The organisation works with businesses across Scotland with a focus on SMEs and the third sector. They receive funding from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund to influence and enable change – from gathering evidence and informing policy, to motivating practical behaviour change in individuals and organisations through their programmes and brands.

The circular economy

At the moment, the world primarily runs on the basis of a linear economy: make, consume, dispose.

John Watt CATake the smartphone for example. Most smartphones are designed to be constantly updated with new software until that particular model can no longer support the required upgrades. This is when the phone is usually disposed of and a new model is purchased, starting the linear process again.

The circular economy model works on the concept of prolonged use and reuse. Using the smartphone example again, in the circular economy the phone would be designed to last significantly longer. It would also be made up of parts which, when it finally broke beyond repair, could be easily dismantled, re-used in another phone, made into something new or safely returned to nature.

The advantages of this economic model stretch beyond the consumer market and into environmental conservation, job creation and presents business with a sustainable way to cut costs.

“There is an education process involved in what we do,” says Lynn.

“The term circular economy is something that people may not be sure of. We want to educate businesses on the opportunities that come with the model and support them as they move to adopt it.

“There are so many jobs emerging from this area. There is going to be a shift from the linear model to the circular economy. Jobs are going to change and that will have a massive impact.”

Circular economy investment fund

Zero Waste Scotland has a fund of £18m which they are making available to businesses in Scotland.

“The fund is aimed at particular sectors like energy, bio-economy, construction and manufacturing,” say Lynn. “This fund is a fantastic opportunity for CAs to cut their client’s bottom line.”

The organisation's circular economy business service has also just launched, aimed at helping new SMEs adopt the principles of the circular economy.

“The business service is there to give advice, help looking at different business and funding models and how to involve stakeholders,” explains Lynn.

“This would act as a pipeline to help bring the business in line with the requirements needed to access the fund.”

From a farmer turning the bi-product from the process of making fat-free chips into a high protein animal feed, to a company which grows mushrooms from used coffee granules, people and businesses are constantly innovation in the field of the circular economy.

“What fascinates me is the number of inspirational people who come up with these ingenious ideas,” says Lynn.

“The farmer who created the feed for instance. That was someone who had an idea and did something about it. He thought about the circular economy, it wasn’t just about making money.”

John explained that the fund is available until December 2018.

He said: “Anything between £20,000 to £1 million is available for those who qualify to use it, so please get in touch with us.”

If you think you or your clients could make use of the fund or the business service please get in touch with Zero Waste Scotland.

If you think you or your clients could make use of the fund or the business service, please get in touch with Zero Waste Scotland.


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