Knowledge Exchange and the circular economy

12th March 2024
Written by: Peter McCafferty, Zero Waste Scotland

Scotland is a nation of problem-solvers. We have a reputation for a certain entrepreneurial spirit that enables us to identify gaps in the market and come up with ways to do things better.

It’s perhaps why Scots are credited with world-changing inventions, from the telephone to the steam engine.

Right now though, our innovative abilities are something we must harness to help us tackle the biggest long-term threat to our society: climate change.

Evolving a circular economy

At present, around four-fifths of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the products and materials we make, use, and throw away – often before the end of their useable life.

Evolving a more circular economy, in which products and materials are valued and made to last, is the best thing we can do to reduce our contribution to the climate crisis and achieve a more sustainable future for Scotland.

It’s something that’s recognised at policy-level, with Scotland’s pioneering Circular Economy Bill currently making its way through parliament. Meanwhile, at grassroots level, consumers are increasingly calling on brands to showcase their commitment to sustainability and provide more sustainable options.

About Zero Waste Scotland

At Zero Waste Scotland we provide tailored support and funding to help businesses respond to that demand, and we’re proud to have helped more than 250 businesses join Scotland’s growing circular economy to date.

We can support businesses to explore circular options and embed circularity in their operations, working across the Scottish business landscape with everyone from start-ups to big brands including Balfour Beatty, Tennent’s and Scottish Water.

At Zero Waste Scotland we’re also pioneers of a place-based approach to sustainable innovation, introducing entrepreneurs and businesses to one another to create new opportunities, generate local benefit, and make valuable connections through which to share learning – and sometimes even physical resources.

Forging partnerships

Many of our success stories include innovative partnerships with academia: from helping to establish the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing based at the University of Strathclyde; to a ground-breaking partnership with researchers exploring the barriers to sustainable decision-making; and initiating a pioneering taskforce on decoupling and green growth.

Many of the award-winning projects and businesses we have supported have also been borne from academic research. Take Kenoteq for example; beginning as a research project from Heriot-Watt University, Kenoteq is now an established business making bricks from more than 90% recycled demolition and construction waste materials.

This track-record of successful commercial-academic collaborations is why we’re delighted to sponsor the Making an Environmental Difference category in this year’s Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

Innovative solutions

Creative ideas with potential to disrupt our current, throwaway society are what’s needed if we’re serious about reducing our contribution to climate change and living within the limits of our natural environment. Whether those ideas come from business, academia, or both working together, they’re welcome.

Zero Waste Scotland is committed to using our knowledge and networks to foster those vital relationships. Together we can find solutions for a sustainable future.


Interface would like to thank Zero Waste Scotland for their ongoing commitment to the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.