Furniture recycling firm awarded circular economy funding

A three-sector partnership delivering house clearances for housing associations in Glasgow is to receive a share of more than £700,000 to help the business transition to a circular economy.

Total Homes Co-operative, which ensures that household appliances, furniture and other goods are re-used, has been awarded £312,385 through the Circular Economy Investment Fund.

Administered by Zero Waste Scotland and supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the fund was also awarded to Revive Eco (£234,358) in Glasgow, which collects used coffee grounds and recycles them to create high value bio-oils, which have a wide range of valuable applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food and drink, and to Tayside start-up Angus 3D (£175,000) to bring latest metal 3D printing technology to Scotland.

The funding was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland, a major international circular economy event at the Glasgow SEC.

In her speech the First Minister highlighted reports commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland which outline a potential £1 billion boost to the local economies of circular approaches in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire and Tayside.

The predicted economic benefits to Tayside of adopting a circular economy are over £400 million, while the predicted benefits to Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire are over £600m. A further report sets out the economic opportunities unique to Scotland’s capital, including proposals to maximise the circular opportunities in Edinburgh’s huge festivals and hospitality market.

All reports were produced with the assistance of the local chambers of commerce and written by independent consultants. Each chamber has already started to engage businesses and to help them realise the opportunities. These reports build on work undertaken in Glasgow in June 2016. Scotland has four circular economy regions: Circular Glasgow (a partner in the Hotspot); Circular Edinburgh, Circular Tayside and Circular North East – each work on projects tailored to local opportunities.

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.

“Scotland is already leading the way with its ambitious and challenging targets for recycling which are above and beyond the EU targets. However, we want the narrative to move beyond recycling to re-use, repair and remanufacturing of items. In this light, we are currently considering next steps for introducing a deposit return scheme which will help us achieve our ambitions.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive at Zero Waste Scotland, 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.”

Pauline Smith, director of Total Homes Co-operative, said: “We are beyond excited about the launch of the service. The investment from Zero Waste Scotland has allowed us to create a business that transforms the way items are currently disposed of from vacant housing association properties. 80% of items which we take out, such as furniture, small electricals, kitchen utensils, textiles and toys, will be re-used to support people being re-homed or simply providing an affordable way to refurnish their home.

“We are saving tonnes of household waste going to landfill and dealing with the waste in a socially responsible way plus we will offer discounts on furniture and provide employment and training opportunities to their tenants.

“This service embraces the vision for a circular economy. When we clear properties, items are tested, repaired, cleaned or upcycled and continue in use instead of being landfilled. The members of Total Homes Co-operative have a passion for re-use and recycling; no items will ever be looked upon as waste, but as having potential. We already have interest from councils and housing associations and can only see the impact of the service helping to make great bounds towards a ‘zero waste’ Scotland.”

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