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Byline: Iain Gulland, chief executive Zero Waste Scotland

In 2020, world leaders will flock to Glasgow for the 2020 UN climate change summit to discuss an international response to the climate emergency.

The summit may be next year, but the implications of our impact upon the planet are already being felt today. A major cause of the problem is our insatiable consumption habit, which is responsible for four fifths of Scotland's carbon emissions.

When you consider the energy required to grow, make, process, transport and provide materials, we can no longer drain natural and limited resources to make products that are used for a short time before being thrown away.

Disposability is often the most convenient option - that's the uncomfortable truth that justifies and maintains our current wasteful linear economy. But, when products are designed to be used once, or replaced after a short time, then it's the planet, and ultimately all of us, who lose out. In addition, this constant hunger for new materials to find and extract raw materials triggers a range of environmental issues, from deforestation and loss of species and habitat to water scarcity and plastic pollution.

It is time for Scotland to turn away from a linear system towards a circular economy where everything has value and nothing is wasted. In simple terms, it can be explained as'make, use, remake' as opposed to 'make, use, dispose'. The ultimate goal is to maintain and improve our quality of life, while simultaneously reducing our material consumption and by extension, our impact on the planet.

Many organisations are already waking up to the opportunities on offer and pioneer more circular business models that reduce carbon emissions and maximise the use of scarce materials.

On the other end, consumers are increasingly demanding products that tick the environmentallyfriendly box. No longer a trend, the green credentials of a product is more a necessary quality, rather than an added bonus.

Companies risk being left behind if they don't embrace a new approach to the way they do business.

There is much being done in Scotland to smooth the way and accelerate our transition to a circular economy. It is a smarter way of using products and getting more from what we have that should ultimately make sense for any business, regardless of its field.

EGG Lighting is a good example of a forwardthinking business that has changed its model to embrace the circular economy. The company leases lighting products and when the time comes to replace them, the materials are recovered, refurbished and used again. Its success has seen recently being recognised with the Innovation in Business Award at the Glasgow Business Awards and Best Circular Economy Initiative at the Scottish Resources Awards.

Often in the 21st century, products that could repaired end up in landfill and replaced with a new one, thanks to our culture built on the convenience of disposability.

This is where EGG's business model comes full circle. Their light fittings can last as long as buildings with parts that can be easily replaced, so entire fixtures wouldn't have to be disposed of to fix small faults. When the product does come to the end of its life, EGG buys it back to refurbish it. This increasingly popular 'product as a service' model also gives them a strong customer base and steady source of revenue.

Other businesses must follow suit and look at different ways they can do business to achieve a more sustainable way of working. Not only is the cost to the environment on the line, but so is the economic cost of inaction. Limited materials are exactly that, limited, and successfully adopting a circular approach is the only viable long-term solution.
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Author:Iain Gulland, chief executive Zero Waste Scotland
Publication:Insider Monthly
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 5, 2019
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