Stirling, Scotland — A new report „Biorefining Potential for Scotland“ provides the most detailed insight yet into the circular economy opportunities for waste and by-products generated in Scotland. The new data from Zero Waste Scotland aim to drive investment in line with the country’s circular economy ambitions by highlighting the scale of opportunity in the bioeconomy sector.
Scotland is recognised as a world-leader on the circular economy, which aims to design out waste by keeping materials and products in high-value use for as long as possible. Maximising value from ‘bio’ resources is identified as a priority area with the greatest opportunity to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for Scotland in the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy, Making Things Last. It is estimated an additional £500-£800 million could be generated for Scotland’s economy by using food and drink by-products alone.
Aberdeenshire, Highland, Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders contribute almost two thirds of all Scotland’s agricultural residues. Scotland’s seven cities account for over 50% of the country’s total waste, and the combined hubs of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen give rise to upwards of 500,000 tonnes of potential organic feedstock. Significant losses are estimated to occur in Scottish supply chains for potatoes and carrots. Some 66,000 tonnes of potatoes go unused or are landfilled each year, amounting to a £27 million economic loss. The equivalent figures for carrots are 68,000 tonnes and £27 million. With the right investment, residues from whisky production such as pot ale, food waste from households and hospitality, agricultural residues such as animal manure and unused or misshapen fruit and vegetables, and even wastewater sludge from sewage treatment facilities could be put to good use.
„Biorefining Potential for Scotland“ shows the extent of opportunity for development, with millions of tonnes of valuable material available in Scotland that could be captured and put to high-value use. It also highlights opportunities for new job creation in Scotland, particularly in rural and coastal areas where many of the waste materials arise.
The publication of the report coincides with the launch of a dedicated support service, delivered by Scottish Enterprise. The Scottish Bio-Resource Support Service provides data on type, quantity and location of ‘bio’ materials available in Scotland. The service will also will help companies to learn of the range of support and funding available to help develop and realise forward journeys for high-value materials to be kept in use.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham commented: “I am delighted that this report shows there are huge opportunities for Scottish business in biorefining. We need to stop seeing waste and start seeing opportunities. These resources are important and can make high-value chemical products like plastics, paints, plane parts and aviation fuels, with Scotland now considered to be a leader in industrial biotechnology development.“ Andhe added: „The Scottish Government and our agencies are committed to helping businesses seize these and other opportunities in the circular economy. Zero Waste Scotland’s £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund and the newly launched Scottish Bio-Resource Service delivered by Scottish Enterprise are key to this.”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, underlined: “Scotland is building an impressive portfolio of circular economy business models, with entrepreneurs already offering products as diverse as fuel from whisky by-products and beer from unsold bread on the commercial market. This report will help showcase our burgeoning portfolio to a global audience – as well as demonstrating the opportunities available to develop new, sustainable and profitable circular economy businesses in Scotland.”
Caroline Strain, industrial biotechnology lead at Scottish Enterprise, argued: “The Biorefining Potential for Scotland analysis confirms that Scotland has significant, valuable bio-resources. As these feedstocks could enable a transition from fossil to bio-based materials, this will be a crucial factor in helping Scotland achieve its ambitions to create a sustainable high value chemical manufacturing sector. We look forward to working with businesses, partners and bio entrepreneurs seeking to capitalise on this untapped bio wealth.”
Zero Waste Scotland has widespread support available to help Scottish businesses develop circular economy models and services, including through the £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund. Zero Waste Scotland also operates the Circular Economy Business Support Service, which delivers tailored one to one support for small businesses to help them develop more circular business models.
Source: Zero Waste Scotland