Innovation is fundamental in transforming the way we use resources within Scotland. Effectively managing our resources is imperative to achieving a circular economy in Scotland. Therefore, some benefits of innovation mirror the advantages gained from a circular economy, such as
- Environmental – safeguarding resources & lowering reliance on them; reducing waste generated; decreased carbon emissions
- Economic – improving productivity and resilience; opening up new markets
- Social – added lower cost options for accessing goods; social enterprise opportunities
A number of businesses have already taken novel and creative approaches to try to achieve a more “circular” operation. There are multiple ways for an organisation to implement more circular initiatives, simultaneously becoming more sustainable, including:
- Strategies to reduce consumption – such as the 5p bag charge, which reduced plastic bag usage considerably across the UK – thereby reducing waste and the associated problems
- Where it is not possible to lower the level of waste generated, the waste hierarchy should be used to determine how best to manage waste. Organisations should understand the benefits of managing their waste in the best way possible
- Some companies reduce the waste they create by altering their business models to try to re-use more items, to divert waste from landfills. For instance, Spruce Carpets are a community enterprise that refurbish and deliver used carpets, giving them a new home instead of throwing them away. CCL North offer a secure option for recycling and refurbishing IT, which means that valuable materials can be retained instead of discarded.
- Additionally, redesigning products to ensure that certain components last longer can be an effective means for reducing waste. EGG Lighting, for example, have developed a circular business model whereby only the LED and driver parts of lighting units are replaced, and the rest remains in use. Through their lighting service, businesses can regularly upgrade their lighting technology without replacing entire lighting units, minimising waste generated.
- Waste can be seen from a new perspective – it can be a resource that is put to good use. Multiple groups have achieved this, such as Aurora Sustainability (use coffee waste and heat from whiskey distilleries to produce gourmet mushrooms) and Jaw Brew (partnered with Aulds the Bakers to create a zero-waste, vegan beer made from leftover bread rolls).
Clearly, innovation is a great tool for helping society move towards a more circular economy. However, many of the ideas discussed above require more than just innovative thinking; a background knowledge of waste management is also important. Various waste training courses are available to provide an understanding of waste management legislation, – something that may be vital to those wishing to recirculate waste items by using them in their production streams. More information on waste training courses can be found here:
Additionally, if companies wish to redesign their business model to reduce the waste they produce, then conducting a waste analysis can act as an extremely helpful step in determining which waste materials to target. Here at Albion, we can provide a waste analysis – a tool which can be very useful for helping design recyling scheme. For more information please please get in contact or call us to discuss on 01292 610428.