Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a £70m investment for manufacturing and the circular economy (CE).
The programme includes a CE investment fund and support service to help businesses redesign their processes and products.
Scottish SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, food and drink, energy infrastructure, construction, reuse, remanufacturing, repair and reprocessing can apply for the fund, which will be operational from 1 April.
It comes as part of a strategy called A Manufacturing Future for Scotland, which outlines plans to increase investment in the country’s manufacturing.
Supported by £30m investment from the European Regional Development Fund, it will also promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics to address anticipated demand for skills.
Speaking during a visit to Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank, Sturgeon (pictured) said: “While manufacturing has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades, with increased globalisation and greater use of digital technology, it remains a high skills and high wage sector with earnings that are above the Scottish average.
“Our programme for government committed us to further action and, backed by £70m of new circular economy funding, the action plan outlines how the Scottish Government, our enterprise agencies and Zero Waste Scotland will work with industry and higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, productivity and investment.”
She added that a centre of excellence for manufacturing would also be established to ensure that Scotland “remains a sustainable and competitive place to do business”.
ZWS chief executive Iain Gulland said: “This new funding and support package will push boundaries in business innovation to develop circular models that will keep products in use for longer and ultimately save precious raw materials and resources.
“This makes great economic as well as environmental sense. By investing now, the Scottish Government is putting down foundations to build an ever more sustainable future – one that is resource efficient and most definitely circular.”
Deputy first minister John Swinney added: “The Scottish Government will shortly publish a CE strategy, Making Things Last, which will set out in more detail our priorities for delivering the economic, environmental and social benefits of a more circular economy.”
Manufacturing represents more than half of Scotland’s international exports, with nearly 190,000 people employed in the industry.
Viridor director of external affairs, Dan Cooke said: “The case for recycling is about so much more than the environment. It’s about the economic opportunity for Scotland. That’s why today’s announcement is so important.
“Global manufacturers increasingly cite access to commodities as one of the biggest risks to their businesses. A Scotland that aligns manufacturers, reprocessors and recyclers therefore presents a real opportunity to position our offer on the international stage, completing against Europe and the far-east. But to do so we need to kick-start a Scottish recycling system at a point of inflexion.”