This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for core features such as voting on polls and comments. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Can you make things last? Be part of the circular economy

This opinion piece is about 5 years old

Iain Gulland explains how charities and social enterprises can tap into the new Circular Economy Investment Fund

You might have heard the phrase circular economy being bandied about in environmental or business circles. So what’s it all about, and why am I talking to social enterprises about it?

Well, in its simplest form, the circular economy is about businesses, policy makers and consumers working together to make things last – keeping materials in use for as long as possible, conserving raw materials, and rethinking the design of products and services with these principles in mind.

Iain Gulland
Iain Gulland

We’re talking innovation and new ways of delivering services – concepts that are lived and breathed by Scotland’s third sector, who by their very nature rewrite the rule book to provide great services, in different ways, in challenging environments. As a partner, and as someone who knows the sector well, I hugely value the expertise and new ideas the sector can bring.

To capitalise on the opportunity the circular economy presents for us all, the Scottish Government developed a world leading circular economy strategy called Making Things Last, which looks at how all parts of the Scottish economy can take the circular economy forward.

Third sector organisations are already leading the way in developing cutting edge circular business models – such as Remade in Edinburgh, lead partners behind The Remakery on Leith Walk, a key part of the Making Things Last strategy and one of Zero Waste Scotland’s re-use hubs, which are all about taking re-use retail and repair to the next level in Scotland.

The sector forms the majority of the businesses who are reaching excellent standards in re-use and repair, achieving certification of the Revolve standard, Scotland’s re-use quality standard.

And there are loads more opportunities for social enterprises to get involved in the developing circular economy agenda.

We’ve recently launched the Circular Economy Investment Fund, which has money available for small businesses in the third sector. You can apply if you’re an SME, registered company, charity or community interest company. Businesses can apply to the fund now, via Zero Waste Scotland’s website. It is supported by £18 million funds from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Our Circular Economy Business Support Service delivers tailored, expert, one-to-one consultancy directly to small and medium sized businesses across all sectors in Scotland. It’s for businesses looking to try new technologies, practices, products or services using circular economy principles. This includes models around sharing resources, modular design, re-use and repair, remanufacturing or reprocessing.

What’s more, through our current European Regional Development Funding, we’re also able to give enhanced support to the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund which is managed by Keep Scotland Beautiful and which can award grants of up to £150,000 a year over two years, to eligible community organisations to deliver projects that help to reduce carbon emissions. We’re interested to hear about projects that promote food waste prevention, re-use, repair or recycling schemes, and more, or promote an understanding of climate change. Expressions of interest should be in by 25th August, here.

I’m really excited about the economic and environmental opportunities which the circular economy could deliver for the third sector. To find out more about the Circular Economy fund or service, contact [email protected] at Zero Waste Scotland, or read more on our website.

Iain Gulland is chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland



Be the first to comment.