A report backed by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has called for subsidies to help boost closed loop recycling, reuse, biorefining and remanufacturing.
The Green Alliance’s Circular Economy Scotland report concluded that the country was in a unique position to benefit from developing a circular economy.
But it said that government backing would be needed to stimulate initiatives such as biorefining, a process of capturing valuable chemicals from biomass.
It said: “There is significant finance available for the resources sector, but it is focused on energy-from-waste (EfW) technologies… Closed loop recycling, reuse, biorefining and remanufacturing should not need to be subsidised once scaled up but, where there is competition for feedstock or finance, public policy should be adjusted to enable these technologies to compete.”
It also said that sending all food waste in Scotland for anaerobic digestion would save £23m in landfill costs and create £27m from the energy generated.
Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for the environment, said: “The circular economy presents a tremendous opportunity for Scotland’s long-term economic prospects.
“We are all used to recycling our waste and taking steps to use less energy and reduce emissions. But we now need to go further and look at designing goods and products that can be reused, repaired and remanufactured.
“Scotland is already recognised internationally as an early mover towards a more circular economy. To maintain that momentum, we need to bring the concept to life for businesses, the public sector and consumers, and show what a more circular approach means in practice.”
Iain Gulland, chief executive of ZWS, said: “Reliance on increasingly scarce resources will have a huge cost implication for Scotland in years to come if we don’t adapt.
“This report shows that, by moving to a more circular economic model, there are tremendous opportunities to secure and grow businesses in key sectors, securing and creating jobs, and a sustainable economic future.”