Circular-economic thinking is based on the idea that economic activities should strengthen rather than break down social and environmental resources. Glasgow’s Circular Economy Route Map, published in 2020, sets out a framework to allow Glasgow to truly embrace a sustainable economic future, presenting a vision for a circular city and provides the context in which our local economy is seen as an engine for environmental and social regeneration.
Glasgow’s transition to a fully circular economy will take time and effort to establish. By declaring a vision to achieve city circularity by 2045, Glasgow also aligns with Scotland’s Greenhouse Gas Emission commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.
The circular economy offers significant local opportunities that can directly benefit our citizens especially through education and upskilling prospects, diverse employment opportunities, better health outcomes, affordable and energy efficient housing solutions, and empowerment through an inclusive and participatory approach to economic structures.
The GRREC facility is Glasgow’s largest waste treatment facility dealing with all residual waste that has been processed at the Blochairn Material Recycling Facility. It handles 200,000 tonnes of council green bin residual waste every year. It diverts 90% of green bin residual waste away from landfill, saving millions of pounds. The facility produces enough energy to power the equivalent of 26,496 households and heat the equivalent of some 8,000 homes. The current heat and energy produced goes to operating the plant however it is proposed that this heat recovery will eventually benefit local housing through a district heating plan being developed.
Motherwell based Cuantec are embarking on an innovative use for food waste. Their bioeconomy concept would allow them to extract useful products such as chitin from shellfish which can be used to make a food packaging material that is a replacement for plastic. The product is fully compostable and returns its natural components to the environment, without leaving a trace. Their aim is to be a zero waste company and the remnants from their processing technique allows them to supply the fisheries industry with a high protein feed.
Circular Glasgow is an initiative of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce supported by Zero Waste Scotland and Glasgow City Council. The work carried out by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce set out a programme for Glasgow’s business sector. It outlined practical steps to work towards supporting economic development, innovation, increasing competitive advantage, resource recovery and reuse, and carbon emission reductions. The Chamber’s outreach to its diverse SME membership is a vital component and inspires businesses of all sizes to future-proof their organisations by adopting circular strategies. To date, Circular Glasgow has engaged with over 650 business representatives through its activities and support mechanisms continues to influence, raise awareness and educate of the benefits of adopting circular business models.
Glasgow became the first city in the UK to sign the Circular Cities Declaration after receiving support from the council’s City Administration Committee in April.
The declaration, which was developed by ICLEI Europe in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, recognises the city of Glasgow as one of the leading European cities working in the circular economy.
Argent Energy pioneered the large-scale commercial production of waste based biodiesel in the UK and is now the UK’s foremost sustainable biodiesel producer and fuel supplier. They specialise in the supply of high grade, sustainable diesel for fleet operators, delivering to over 100 UK depots from Kent to Dundee. The bio-component of their diesel is made in the UK from waste fats and oils and excludes any raw materials that could also be used for food or feed. Their use of difficult-to-process waste raw materials ensures that all of the energy used in producing biodiesel has a net positive effect on the environment. Argent has two manufacturing facilities for wastebased biodiesel, including one in Motherwell and following a recent £75million investment, the production capacity will be 145 million litres per year.
Proficio, a specialist cleaning company and chemical supplier, is launching a unique metal restoration service from its site in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, that will recycle metal waste from the manufacturing process and create sustainable solutions for a range of industries. The new service builds on the firm’s expertise in refinishing super alloy and semi-precious metal parts. It can renovate up to 25 tonnes per week and is the only company that can provide a metal renovation solution of this type in Scotland. It is looking to target new customers within industries across aviation, oil and gas as well as looking internationally for growth.
A Glasgow Caledonian University team have received backing to develop a ‘carbon calculator‘ that will help a building services organisation monitor its operational carbon footprint. The concept of repair rather than replace, thus extending a product’s life, is a core business model in circular economy thinking. Keeping materials in the economic cycle for longer reduces our demands on resources and helps reduce our carbon footprint. This tool will bring carbon reporting into some of the housing services procured by local authorities and social housing organisations.
Glasgow’s EGG Lighting are building a successful business model that is both innovative and circular. They are reducing energy and material waste and have been providing start-to-finish delivery of business to business LED lighting and sensor projects in the public and private sectors since 2013. Only 5% of a LED light fitting actually needs to be replaced meaning that, typically, 95% of the remaining material would be discarded unnecessarily.
Re–tek repairs and refurbishes functional used IT products and sells them on to new owners, sharing the revenue with the previous owner. This includes laptops, PCs, flat screen monitors and hand–held electronics. Re-tek operates an ‘incentivised return’ business model which is a circular economy business model offering a financial or other incentive for the return of ‘used’ products, which can then be refurbished and re-sold.
Revive works with waste management partners to collect used coffee grounds from across Scotland. They are then processed at their used coffee grounds recycling plant in Scotland and used to create a range of high value products – in the process creating environmental benefits and saving customers money.
Preliminary research from University of Glasgow examines the role of digitalisation in changing how consumers respond to, manage and maintain more sustainable approaches to clothing. It brings together the mission and vision of Save Your Wardrobe, with expert consumer researchers. Using a qualitative approach (in-depth consumer interviews and wardrobe audits) it explores existing clothing behaviours and how the Save Your Wardrobe (SYW) application (app) could be used as a digital wardrobe management solution.