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How Glasgow’s business community should prepare for COP26

Written by: Alison McRae, Senior Director at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

November 2020 

We have just marked a year to go until COP26 comes to Glasgow, showcasing to the world the steps we have taken to become leaders in a circular and more sustainable economy.

COP26 would have been taking place right now, however with the COVID-19 pandemic putting that on pause, we now have one year to finesse our efforts and it’s important that we make good use of that time. In the months ahead, we will all be looking at cleaner and greener solutions which adopt circular principles, from government level through to large businesses, SMEs and the residents of Glasgow.

Image of Alison McRae, Senior Director of Glasgow Chamber of CommerceThrough our Circular Glasgow initiative, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a virtual event series, Get Inspired 2020, which looked at the next steps for Glasgow’s journey to become a leading circular city. In our opening session – A Circular Future – we asked our guest speakers what businesses could be doing to make this transition to a circular economy.

Wayne Hubbard from LWARB urged those listening to rethink business models driven by volume and instead look at alternative solutions like leasing and sharing. Circle Economy CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo told companies to start a dialogue with local and national governments about how ambitions can be achieved rather than waiting to see what legislations they will need to adhere to down the line. Glasgow City Council’s COP26 Stakeholder Manager Duncan Brooker called for Glasgow’s business community to do what they do best and lead the city, as they did through the great industrial age, and uncover the competitive advantage of the circular economy.

The 2030 net zero target for Glasgow is one of the most ambitious challenges of its kind globally, and there is a real aspiration for a local legacy for when COP26 leaves the city – we want the world to be talking about the innovative work taking place here.

Through Circular Glasgow, and our partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, we are working with companies across the city to support them to adopt new business models, and we’re specifically looking at four sectors where we see huge potential: construction, food and drink, manufacturing and engineering, and events and conferences. During this week long Get Inspired 2020 event series we asked leaders in each of these sectors what one piece of advice they would give to businesses looking to make the move to circular.

One key takeaway across the board was collaboration. In particular, Jo Chidley from Beauty Kitchen urged businesses to take advantage of the networks and support available from the Chamber and others and engage with their own sectors and supply chains as well as other industries, while Stephen Good from Construction Scotland Innovation Centre encouraged listeners to build knowledge and educate themselves on the examples that are already out there. Warren Bowden from Scottish Leather Group offered some practical advice for businesses, highlighting the benefits of carrying out an environmental audit and looking at the circular economy through the lens of innovation to identify new opportunities.

What was clear from all of our contributors is the importance of taking action now. We are still very much in the grasp of a global pandemic but as we look to a recovery plan, circular economy can certainly influence our decisions going forward. We must be open to partnerships and new ideas to change the way we make and consume – the circular economy is going to be a key part of our future. Businesses adopting that change now will reap the rewards for years to come.

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