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The Next Economy
Edinburgh Going Circular, Auckland Sees the Business Case

A major new initiative in Edinburgh will help local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) identify and capitalise on circular economy opportunities, while an economic study has shown how circular economy opportunities could deliver nearly $9 billion for Auckland.

Circular Edinburgh is a joint initiative designed to help businesses in the Scottish capital to turn “waste into wealth,” delivered by Zero Waste Scotland and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. The city is one of four Scottish regions selected in 2018 to receive free support and project funding for local businesses, which it will distribute to local SMEs through this new initiative.

“Circular Edinburgh is a terrific opportunity to help local businesses in making the transition to a circular economy, that has the potential to create jobs, support sustainable business models and help the environment and the economy. Across Scotland, a circular economy could generate £3 billion of annual benefits,” said Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland.

“Scotland is at the cutting edge of developing a more circular economy and was recently chosen to host the Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland, a major international trade mission, taking place later this year. Businesses are already capitalising on the vast benefits of being circular and, through new business models, are finding untapped opportunities for innovation and increased profitability, whilst addressing the issue of resource pressures.”

Circular Edinburgh complements Zero Waste Scotland’s nationwide support for SMEs to develop circular economy business ideas, including its £18 million Circular Economy Investment Fund and Circular Economy Business Support Service. The initiative is part of the Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which aims to improve the economic performance of SMEs while at the same time reducing the impact of economic activity on the natural environment, supporting Scottish Government and European Union policies. The Programme will invest £27 million in Scotland in circular economy projects until December 2019, thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Meanwhile, new economic analyses suggest $0.8-$8.8 billion in GDP could be achieved by 2030 through circular economy initiatives in Auckland, New Zealand. The first report of its kind in the country, The Circular Economy Opportunity for Auckland applies techniques from similar reports for London and Glasgow to the Auckland economy, focusing on food, transport and the built environment.

The report was produced by the Sustainable Business Network in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). Their collaboration on the report also produced an insights paper entitled, Circular Economy: A new dynamic for Auckland Businesses.

“A more circular economy is inevitable. It is the only viable model for meeting the needs of a growing population within environmental boundaries,” said James Griffin, who leads the Circular Economy Accelerator, part of the Sustainable Business Network. “Applying circular economy thinking to Auckland will future-proof prosperity. It will trigger a new era of business innovation. It will radically reduce the costs of our economic activity and the material inputs it requires. The only question is: how fast can we go to realise the opportunity?”

The report found that opportunities were largest for the construction industry. Adopting enhanced methods of construction such as designing for multi-purpose use, more reuse and high value recycling, industrialized processes and 3D printing could yield $2.5 billion. Circular transportation could yield $1.8 billion through ride sharing, refurbishing commercial vehicles and reducing traffic congestion. Reducing food waste and finding more commercial use for it such as for biogas or animal feed could yield $0.3 billion.

“Auckland with its innovative, entrepreneurial business culture has the opportunity to position itself as a circular economy city for the world. The circular economy represents new business opportunities in growing global markets including new business models in transport, waste to value opportunities in the food sector and the re-use of construction materials,” said Patrick McVeigh, General Manager of Business, Innovation and Skills for ATEED.

“Auckland businesses pursuing process and product innovations that reflect circularity will create new forms of value, open up new markets and support sustainable growth by reducing reliance on finite resources.”


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