Category Archives: Circular Economy

THOUGHTS ON “SCIENCE AND THE PARLIAMENT”

The other week, our KTP Associate – Jennifer Kowalski – was invited to attend Science at The Parliament in Edinburgh. This is what she had to say about the event:

The theme for this year’s Science and the Parliament event was sustainability, which is a really interesting, and also a topical subject. There was also a focus on resource consumption, since The Royal Society of Chemistry are celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table. The periodic Table (which gives details of all of the elements that make up every single thing on the planet) was created back in 1869. In the 150 years that has passed since then, a lot has changed in regards to the way we use these elements.

Back in 1869, technology was still in its infancy, and many potential functionalities of our chemical elements were yet to be discovered. Now however, we use many elements extensively, to the point that some are at risk of running out – and within a single lifetime!

In the UK, 1.5 million phones are upgraded every month. Current trends mean that most people want the newest and flashiest gadgets, which has created a situation in which many old phones just sit around in peoples drawers, serving no useful purpose and wasting valuable resources. It has been predicted that we could run out of Indium within 20 years – this is a rare metal that is an essential component of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens. This also means that it is a necessary component for touchscreens, and without touchscreens we wouldn’t have smartphones. A few decades from now, will people in the UK be ready to give up their smartphones?

I think that the attachment that many people have with their own phones can only grow stronger, especially as will the use of social media and apps as a tool for making a living, or increasing business avenues, expands. As such, it is evident that, as a society, we need to start taking better care of our belongings right now.

If we are not careful, an element that we could lose altogether is Helium. Prior to the talks at this event, I was really only aware of a select few uses of this gas – such as balloons and blimps. Yet it turns out liquid helium is the “lifeblood” of MRI machines. When used in MRI’s, helium then tends to be recycled, which is important. Why? Well, helium is the only element that is capable of floating up through the air as a gas, and then escaping completely into outer space, upon reaching the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. And when helium is used to inflate balloons, it often eventually leaks out into the air, where this is exactly what will happen.

If we continue using balloons at the rate we do now, we could fully exhaust our supply of this gas in roughly 100 years. We now need to decide whether having helium wrapped in shiny plastic at parties and functions is worth our great grandchildren being unable to receive an MRI when they need it.

Whilst our use of science and technologies is clearly a critical topic, it is not the only sustainability-related area that this event focused on. The day wouldn’t have been complete without hearing from some MP’s, to see what the parliament is actually doing about the key issues in sustainability. This came in the form of an MSP Panel which focused on sustainability and the climate emergency. The politicians present discussed their views on certain issues including the use of Genetically Modified Crops; changes to the cars we use in Scotland; and what they actually intend to do to help prevent a climate breakdown.

With the increasing urgency of the latter of these subjects, and how little has been done so far to combat this (at least, in comparison to what needs to be done) it can often feel like scientists do not have a voice. Which of course, is very frustrating for anyone within this profession, and for anyone who is interested in it, or cares about it. Yet, this is what makes events like Science and the parliament so important, as it can foster collaboration between different areas of science through networking, and it allows a chance for communication between politicians and scientists.

Here at Albion, we are taking sustainability and environmental impacts more and more seriously. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or twitter to see some of our posts and blogs on this theme, for example, our 12 days of a more environmentally friendly Christmas posts.

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – I INNOVATION

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

Scottish Resource Conference 2019 Sponsorship

Albion Environmental host table and provide sponsorship for the  “Best Food Waste Initiative” award at Scottish Resources Awards Dinner 2019 (now in its 18th year) at Perth Concert hall. This prestigious event is to recognise companies and individuals for their creative input within the circular economy and resource management sector. It is held in partnership with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) . We look forward to welcoming our guests and would like to wish all the finalists the best of luck for the awards.

Waste Compositional Analysis – Perth & Kinross Council

Albion Environmental provide specialist Waste Compositional Analysis to Councils in order to assist them with developments of their waste strategies.

As part of the development of Perth and Kinross Council Waste Strategy, and to help influence their recycling, Perth and Kinross Council have produced a short public information video to explain the key findings of the residual waste in Perth & Kinross. Albion Environmental were the contractor carrying out Waste Compositional Analysis of the general waste on three different occasions from 2018 to 2019, to provide the data during the development of their campaign.

Albion staff Les Thomson and Chris Eccles star in the later stages of this video. Hard and dirty work but essential to provide councils with the vital information they need to develop their strategies. Well done Les and Chris!!

Climate Strike Today

In support of the Climate Strike today we have come up with the following simple pledge which can contribute to environmental improvement! We challenged our staff and we do most of them, but in some cases not all the time – so definitely room for improvement!


  1. Drive less – commit to walk or cycle for all journeys of a mile or less!
  2. Love your latte? – take a reusable cup with you when you are out and about!
  3. Take your re fillable water bottle – 60million people in UK, if each used one less bottle, that would be 60million less bottles produced!
  4. Use your food waste recycling – the energy and nutritional value in food waste is captured if treated separately. Do you know at least 50% of the population in Scotland do not use their food waste recycling!
  5. Use your recycling system properly – we routinely find at least 30% of residual waste could have been recycled!
  6. Don’t drop litter (we know you don’t but someone must!!?)
  7. Take or make a “waste free” packed lunch each day – no more cling film or foil wrappers, use tubs instead!
  8. Take the plastic labels off bananas, oranges etc prior to putting peelings in the food waste. Plastic labels go straight through the composting or anaerobic digestion process and then get applied to the land!!
  9. Use re usable bags for your shopping, including small reusable bags for your fruit and vegetables.
  10. Visit love food hate waste for more tips and ideas to reduce food waste

All small simple steps, that everyone can take to improve the environment.

The major changes needed to deal with climate change will only occur when the population as a whole takes responsibility for their impact on the environment!!

We would love to know how many of these you do, and if not do you think you can modify your behaviour?