Key Scottish regions could receive a £1 billion boom for circular economy businesses

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Pic: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 Link:

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is to announce today that key regions of Scotland could be at the heart of an estimated £1 billion boom for circular economy businesses in the country.  

The possible value to the local economies of circular approaches in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and Tayside, is outlined in a report commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and is to be highlighted in a speech by the First Minister at the Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland. 


This Hotspot is an international circular economy event that runs from 30 October to 1 November at the Glasgow SEC. 

According to ZWS, the predicted economic benefits of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire from adopting a circular economy is approximately £625m:  



  • Construction and built environment sector – £286 million. 
  • Energy infrastructure sector – £250 million. 
  • Food and drink sector, and the wider bio-economy – £52 million. 
  • Manufacturing sector – £37 million. 

For Tayside, the economic benefits are around £404m:   

  • Construction and the built environment sector – £185 million 
  • Energy infrastructure sector – £186 million  
  • Manufacturing sector – £19 million 
  • Food and drink sector, and the wider bioeconomy – £14 million 

Another report sets out the economic opportunities in Edinburgh, including suggestions to improve the circularity of the region’s festivals and hospitality markets. Researchers have considered the economic opportunities specific to Edinburgh’s key sectors: 

  • The University of Edinburgh has identified an alternative way of gold recovery from electronics, which has a reduced impact on the environment through less use of toxic chemicals. Reuse and recovery of precious materials could be worth up to £140 million.
  • Edinburgh and the surrounding area have many breweries and distilleries. Making beer produces a high volume of spent grain, which can be channelled into grain bars and animal feed, anaerobic digestion and energy generation, with a potential value of £1,275,000 to the economy annually.
  • Circular Edinburgh is joining forces with festivals to help promote the circular economy.  

All reports have been developed with the help of the local chambers of commerce and written by independent consultants, with each chamber already beginning to engage with businesses to help them realise these opportunities.  

The First Minister will also use her speech to announce the latest businesses to receive support through the Circular Economy Investment Fund, with over £700,000 going to help three Scottish firms accelerate the transition to a circular economy. These three businesses are: 

  • Total Homes, a three-sector partnership that delivers house clearances for Housing Associations in Glasgow, ensuring that household appliances, furniture and other goods are re-used. It will receive £312,385.
  • Revive Eco, a Glasgow-based firm built upon partnerships with large coffee chains and small coffee stores and garden centres. It collects used coffee grounds and recycles them to create high value bio-oils. The oils have a wide range of applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food and drinks. It will receive £234,358.
  • Angus 3D will receive £175,000. This grant will enable the Tayside start-up to bring the latest metal 3D printing technology to Scotland and will help reduce waste in the design process and extend the lifespan of machinery by allowing old parts to be manufactured from 3D scans.  

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These reports show the exciting potential of a circular economy where reducing waste and investing in keeping materials in circulation for as long as possible can release an estimated £1 billion of economic opportunities for Tayside, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. This demonstrates the overall scale of the opportunity for Scotland.  

“It’s great to see projects like Total Homes, Revive Eco and Angus 3D embracing our circular economy and getting maximum value from resources. This £700,000 investment will help these businesses re-use and repurpose products which will benefit communities by creating jobs and reducing emissions.” 

ZWS chief executive Iain Gulland said: “It’s fantastic to be able to profile the work that’s being done in Scotland to kickstart the circular economy to a global audience. Businesses like Revive Eco, Angus 3D and Total Homes are already doing great things, and I hope this event will be an impetus for even more ambition.  

“Our Circular Economy Investment Fund is helping to bring exciting new ideas to market and we are seeing ever greater interest from private backers, who recognise that the future is circular. The challenges in building a circular economy are big but they are only matched by the potential benefits to businesses, which could be up to £1 billion in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and Tayside alone.”

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