Waste from industry could drive sustainable investment in Scotland, new report finds

A new report has been released that shows that Scotland could generate millions of tonnes of ‘bio’ material that could add value to the country’s economy.  

The new report Is entitled Biorefining Potential for Scotland and has been produced by Zero Waste Scotland. It aims to provide detailed insight into circular economy opportunities for waste and by-products generated in Scotland.

Scotland is recognised as a world-leader on the circular economy, which aims to design out waste by keeping materials and products in high-value use for as long as possible.

Maximising value from ‘bio’ resources is identified as a priority area with the greatest opportunity to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for Scotland in the Scottish government’s circular economy strategy, Making Things Last. It is estimated an additional £500-£800million could be generated for Scotland’s economy by using food and drink by-products alone.

With the right investment, residues from whisky production such as pot ale, food waste from households and hospitality, agricultural residues such as animal manure and unused or misshapen fruit and vegetables, and even wastewater sludge from sewage treatment facilities could be put to good use.

Biorefining Potential for Scotland shows the extent of opportunity for development, with millions of tonnes of valuable material available in Scotland that could be captured and put to high-value use. It also highlights opportunities for new job creation in Scotland, particularly in rural and coastal areas where many of the waste materials arise.

The publication of the report coincides with the launch of a dedicated support service, delivered by Scottish Enterprise. The Scottish Bio-Resource Support Service provides data on type, quantity and location of ‘bio’ materials available in Scotland. The service will also will help companies to learn of the range of support and funding available to help develop and realise forward journeys for high-value materials to be kept in use.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said:  “I am delighted that this report shows there are huge opportunities for Scottish business in biorefining. We need to stop seeing waste and start seeing opportunities.

“These resources are important and can make high-value chemical products like plastics, paints, plane parts and aviation fuels, with Scotland now considered to be a leader in industrial biotechnology development.

“The Scottish government and our agencies are committed to helping businesses seize these and other opportunities in the circular economy. Zero Waste Scotland’s £18million Circular Economy Investment Fund and the newly launched Scottish Bio-Resource Service delivered by Scottish Enterprise are key to this.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Scotland is building an impressive portfolio of circular economy business models, with entrepreneurs already offering products as diverse as fuel from whisky by-products and beer from unsold bread on the commercial market. This report will help showcase our burgeoning portfolio to a global audience – as well as demonstrating the opportunities available to develop new, sustainable and profitable circular economy businesses in Scotland.”

Caroline Strain, industrial biotechnology lead at Scottish Enterprise, said: “The Biorefining Potential for Scotland analysis confirms that Scotland has significant, valuable bio-resources. As these feedstocks could enable a transition from fossil to bio-based materials, this will be a crucial factor in helping Scotland achieve its ambitions to create a sustainable high value chemical manufacturing sector. We look forward to working with businesses, partners and bio entrepreneurs seeking to capitalise on this untapped bio wealth.”

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight. 

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