Glasgow: Dear Green ‘Circular’ Place
Written by: Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland
It has been over three years since a chat with Guido Braam, then of Netherlands-based Circle Economy, changed our whole approach to business engagement around the circular economy. Up until that moment we, at Zero Waste Scotland, had relied on the sectoral approach that has been a feature of our more well-known resource efficiency work. Guido however, encouraged me to test the regional approach that he was driving in the Netherlands – primarily around the Amsterdam region.
Thus, we sought a partnership with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, to focus our attention on Scotland’s biggest city. Our Netherlands friends continued to be helpful, hosting a visit from our Glasgow colleagues and partners and providing practical assistance to launch Scotland’s first circular city. And the rest you might say is ‘history’.
Cities are a big part of our future. The industrial revolution accelerated the growth of our major urban conurbations, and as we move further into the 21st century our cities again look to be developing as the hubs of where we live and work. Indeed forecasts suggest that by 2050 over two thirds of the world’s population will be urbanised.
Taking a cities and regions approach when it comes to accelerating the transition towards a circular economy and a zero waste society has many benefits in terms of impact. It also allows a focus on regional specialism – whether that be events or digital technology, maximising the opportunities in areas of strength and potential – which aren’t the same all over Scotland.
Concentrating on smaller geographic areas provides a great testing ground for zero waste initiatives and circular business models. It also allows us to work with long-established regional partners who know their city inside-out – its needs, its potential, and who to talk to. That’s why at Zero Waste Scotland we are working closely with our Zero Waste Towns and Circular Cities and Regions, including Glasgow, to ensure we make the biggest impact we can to reach our goal of becoming waste-free.
Circular Glasgow is already making a huge impact with innovative collaborations that are geared towards making businesses sustainable through keeping products, including by-products, in use and giving them new life. This smart way of doing business is cutting production and energy costs whilst forming successful new partnerships.
One key area we are excited about is the focus on Glasgow’s events industry, it’s thriving, so it’s the ideal area to test and review ways in which to combat the waste created by the three million plus visitors who attend high profile events annually in the city.
Glasgow is already a leading city in hosting events, and the innovative solutions from the recent winners of Circle Lab could really put Glasgow on the map as a world-leading sustainable events champion.
With so many exciting Circular projects taking place across the country, Scotland is at the cutting edge of developing a more circular economy and later this year Glasgow will host the Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland. The event will showcase to an international audience how our cities, regions and businesses are already capitalising on the vast benefits of being circular and how they are finding untapped opportunities for innovation and increased profitability, whilst addressing the issue of resource pressures. The event is also a great opportunity for Scottish SMEs to learn more about the Circular Economy, including good practice, making circular business connections and finding out more about the support available.
These fantastic examples of local and regional circular economy activity will provide the building blocks for Circular Cities, which will have elements that any town or city around the world could adopt.