It may seem too soon, but the aim of this blog is to encourage a discussion about how current COVID-19 circumstances might force or help all of us to think more about business development opportunities.

Firstly, there are a couple of questions that might be good to consider:

  • Are we happy to claim that we are recycling when in reality what we are doing is collecting materials, bulking them and then shipping them out of Scotland? Contrastingly, other countries have invested in reprocessing infrastructure, and created jobs, which has then added the real value.
  • Or alternatively, are we happy that some companies continue shipping materials to countries clandestinely which do not have the required infrastructure leaving local people having to to deal with the consequences of pollution and ill health?

Scotland has an exported manufacturing service and therefore jobs to other parts of the world at a quickening pace since the 1970’s and our communities increasingly rely on the vast majority of non-food goods being imported from around the world. We also export some food products to as far afield as China where, because we do not price in the cost of carbon emissions, it is then cheaper for value to be added there with the processed food before being returned back to Scotland!

The point is that this now may be the right time to think about how we can start making more products again in Scotland, including the reprocessing and remanufacturing of products previously used and discarded.

In 2022 there will be two significant initiatives impacting the way we use plastic products in Scotland. One of these, the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will mean that householders pay 20 pence more for a drink’s product, which they can subsequently get back when they return the empty container to a return station. This will result in the collection, haulage and bulking of significant quantities of segregated, high quality materials very suitable for recycling.

In addition, again in 2022, the introduction of a plastic packaging tax will mean that manufacturers and importers will pay £200 per tonne on packaging made of less than 30% recycled plastic[1]. The timing is therefore ripe to be thinking about how our businesses can benefit from this and develop new opportunities to manufacture recycled and re-used materials and products.

The Circular North-east programme is interested in exploring whether there’s interest from local individuals, companies and other organisations in these future opportunities with the aim of discussing it during an online webinar in August. If you are interested, we’d be very grateful if you could get in touch.

[1] This will result in an increase in the use of recycled plastic in packaging by 40% - equal to carbon savings of nearly 200,000 tonnes for the whole of the UK. Source: https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/budget-reactions-plastic-packaging-tax-makes-the-uk-a-lodestar-in-new-net-zero-age/