The traditional linear ‘make-use-dispose’ economy in which we use resources for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them, then throw them away, is no longer fit for the 21st Century. Evidence of a culture shift towards a circular economy is now elevating business sustainability to a whole new level with increased cross-sector collaboration and innovative technology applications paving the way to a waste-free economy.

What is a circular economy?

Unlike the traditional linear model, a circular economy restores old products, parts and materials back to their original use in a way that uses the least amount of resources to deliver the same function.

Circular economy core components

The Circular Economy Scotland report by the Green Alliance explains that the tightest ‘loops’ within a circular economy require two core components:
  • The direct reuse of products to preserve their highly-engineered character and useful function
  • The repair or reconditioning of products before they can be used again, with remanufacturing able to preserve the most value
The next best route is recycling, which can be closed or open loop.

Closed loop recycling

Closed loop recycled products are turned into materials that can be used to create the products they were recovered from, i.e. glass bottle to glass bottle or specialty alloy to specialty alloy recycling.

Open loop recycling

In contrast, open loop recycling, or downcycling, creates materials that are only suitable for lower value applications e.g. glass bottles used for construction aggregate and specialty alloys downcycled into bulk metals. Although this is of lower value, it avoids the use of new materials.

Commercial opportunities in the circular economy

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient economy by:
  • Re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products
  • Re-thinking how we use and consume products, and
  • Re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling
There are many opportunities to achieve a more circular economy with greater sector collaboration underpinned by government support to apply these 3 principles and put them into actions. In particular, three sectors can drive the biggest changes:

Food and Drink

  • 10 million tonnes of food waste valued at £1.9 billion is produced within food manufacturing and retailing sector
  • Use WRAP’s 5-5-5 approach to maximise waste reduction
  • 5 key actions include: measure the waste, cost it properly, set targets for waste reduction, take action on highest waste areas and embed a culture of waste prevention
  • 5 key areas to target include: improve systems and processes, implement Lean/Continuous Improvement processes, collaborate with customers and the supply chain, optimise secondary packaging to reduce waste and redistribute surplus food by selling it, sending to charity or for animal feed
  • 5 stages to follow once you have measured and properly costed your waste

Clothing and Textiles

• 3-5 billion worth of resources could be saved by organisations in the supply chain
- Opportunity - Fibre and fabric selection is key to improving sustainability, reducing carbon, water and waste footprints and increasing the useable life of a piece of clothing

• 10% cut in water, waste and carbon by increasing clothing life by just 3 months
- Opportunity - Design clothing to extend its life to withstand wear & tear and to appeal to the customer for longer. This promotes brand loyalty, confidence and customer satisfaction as well as being good for the planet

• 1/3 of the average consumer wardrobe has value, but is no longer used
- Love Your Clothes consumer campaign provides tips to consumers to help them think about the way they purchase, use and dispose of clothes, including refashion and upcycling

• 2/3 of consumers buy second hand, and demand is growing
- Sell clothes online (eBay, Gumtree, Facebook) or at Maggie & Suzie’s Preloved Clothing in Inverness or donate to charity shops and buy someone else’s clothes in its place

Electricals and electronics

Can you think of ways to collaborate and innovate with industry and government partners to consider how businesses could profit from a more sustainable approach to electrical and electronic products?
  • 80% of customers want a minimum 2-year guarantee on new appliances
  • £400 million cost to brands and retailers on returned products
  • 70% were likely to trade in high-tech products
  • £800 million is the amount the UK could benefit from in GDP growth
Using a design thinking approach, we will examine new ways to create sustainable, resilient and long lasting value to provide a win-win for your people, our planet and your balance sheet.

Our Commitment to accelerating a circular economy

Our pledge at Bridge a Gap is to:

Enable connections between businesses, circular economy experts and government agencies such as Resource Efficient Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland to,

  • Raise awareness of a circular economy
  • Promote existing and new market opportunities for a circular economy on a local, national and international scale
  • Create a vibrant environment for cross-sector collaboration, innovation and investment
  • Promote a culture of Lean/ Continuous Improvement (CI) to identify and reduce waste in our manufacturing and engineering processes
  • Showcase world-class models of organisational best practice in a circular economy
Contact Us:
10 Yairs Rise,
North Kessock,
Inverness IV1 3YJ
Tel: 07825508945
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