Iris Anderson, BBIA Ambassador
Scotland is striving, through various initiatives, to define and embrace the concepts of a circular economy as set out by the European Commission in its December 2015 package. The Scottish Circular Economy Business Network was launched in November 2015, and a programme of events for 2016/17 was drawn up. On 2 June 2016, Iris Anderson, the BBIA ambassador, attended one of these events, a workshop at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
This was the first in a series of workshops on Building Bio-economy Partnerships, funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, which brings together a collaboration of Scottish universities with IBioIC, Zero Waste Scotland, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise focused on the bioeconomy aspect of the circular economy.
There was quite a buzz in the room as everybody present was keen to hear industry speakers giving their perspectives of a circular economy, including how the bioeconomy fits.
Ben Huckle from GlaxoSmithKline explained how, after the examination of various wastes to extract sugars, the results were that the most promising was waste bread and the least promising paper. Peter McRritchie from Bouygues told us of engineering and facility solutions in advanced technology sectors. Two start-ups, Revive Eco and CuanTec, gave their views of utilising coffee grounds and waste shells from fishing industry to create new functional bioproducts. This fitted perfectly with a circular economy model. The group then split into smaller teams, which were given topics to discuss.
The workshop was interesting and valuable in many ways – not least for providing an opportunity for industry to mingle with academia, raising awareness of initiatives in various industry sectors, sharing of knowledge, et cetera. The stated aim was to connect businesses with academic experts to identify and help overcome barriers faced by businesses wishing to progress towards more circular practices.
The outputs from the workshop showed how difficult it will be to create metrics to measure the circular economy. Various theories were put forward including collecting data on quality and quantity of various wastes, and focusing on key sectors and developing standards for them. There was also a view that there is a huge effort needed to raise awareness and inform public perception. Some suggestions to move forward included reviewing waste regulations, recreating the industrial symbiosis programme and training specialists in each industry sector to give tailored advice on the circular economy.
The second workshop, which will be held in Edinburgh at Dynamic Earth on 23 June 2016, will be based on the outputs from this workshop.
In another initiative, the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is holding a mini summit on 17 June to discuss how ‘the future sustainability and survival of our cities depends on the widespread adoption of circularity’ and how Glasgow can best lead this to develop its economy and the wellbeing of its city. Key outputs and recommendations from this summit will then be taken forward, supporting the city’s adoption of an effective circular economy strategy.
This work is good preparation for hosting the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) 2016. The ninth EFIB comes to Scotland on 18-20 October 2016 and will attract industry committed to a shift towards renewable, biologically-based manufacturing. EFIB is organised by EuropaBio, an influential biotechnology industry group and Smithers Rapra, a global leader in rubber, plastics, polymer and composites information products. It will be supported in Glasgow by Team Scotland, which includes IBioIC, Scottish Enterprise, SECC and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and partners such as KTN and Innovate UK.
This level of effort is encouraging and needs to be maintained.