The importance of sustainable consumption and production patterns was highlighted by the UN’s Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. The default model of ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ is unsustainable, expensive for both manufacturer and consumer, and environmentally damaging. There are significant potential benefits of achieving a more circular economy; to the environment, the economy and communities.
The Circular Economy is defined as follows:
‘Waste materials and products become the raw material for industry, commerce and manufacturing. Effectively, waste is designed out of the system, and materials are continuously flowing through the supply chain and are retained by businesses and the economy’ The Ellen McArthur Foundation, Scotland and the Circular Economy.
The importance of the Circular Economy is also an emerging priority among key stakeholders in Scotland. Yet it remains poorly understood and rarely implemented on a national scale; there are many challenges to overcome, and flexible innovation will be essential for the successful implementation of a circular economy within Scotland. Knowledge and understanding are vital first steps, but to create a genuine circular economy new and improved business models, technology and knowledge are needed.
This programme seeks to establish a Scottish network with broad participation from industry, government and the third sector to identify technologies and knowledge that can help Scotland progress towards a zero waste and circular economy. A series of workshops will focus on:
- Identifying the requirements of achieving a circular economy
- Discovering the objectives and priorities of government policy
- Considering the challenges faced in achieving these objectives
- Learning how organisations such as Zero Waste, the Ellen McArthur Foundation, SEPA and the Green Alliance support the delivery of identified priorities
- Understanding the challenges faced by industry in achieving the targets set
- Learning from other countries that are more advanced in implementing the circular economy, such as Sweden and the Netherlands
- Discussing how the expertise held within the collaborating universities can help achieve the targets set by government
- Identifying specific knowledge and technologies that could facilitate and enable the development of a circular economy
It is hoped the programme will support, drive and promote collaboration and engagement between researchers, government and industry. Engaging a wide range of businesses is a priority, as is understanding the problems they face in becoming part of the circular economy, be those problems technical, financial or managerial. It is expected that in some cases individuals or groups of academics will work with industrial partners to solve those problems. The workshops will also provide an opportunity to identify follow on funding for collaborative projects arising from the programme.