20 January 2021
Circular Economy: Supporting Local
Businesses in Making the Switch
With the earth’s resources increasingly scarce and more expensive, the way we traditionally operate by using up and then disposing of raw materials is no longer a sustainable or viable option and we must depart from this linear economy model urgently. Reducing the amount of things we use, keeping existing products and materials in circulation, prolonging their lifecycle and extracting the maximum value is a concept better known as the circular economy; products and materials flow around the economy continuously from one use to the next and so on.
Products must be designed with their whole life cycle in mind; ‘things’ must last longer, then reused and refurbished to extend their lifetime and then recycled appropriately when their life is deemed over to create new products from old, without the need for additional new raw materials. Furthermore, for a circular economy to prosper, businesses and consumers must work together to make things last by forming a network.
In response to this shift, Sustainable Kirriemuir held its first online circular economy local business support session in partnership with Circular Tayside on the 7th of December 2020. Businesses of Kirriemuir and the surrounding areas brought their knowledge up to speed on the concept and started planning how they will align their business operations with the Scotland-wide transition. Businesses found out how Circular Tayside could support them in the process; to capitalise on the opportunities associated with circularity, and to promote their inspiring efforts to catalyse further change across the area.
Stephen Page, from Something Special Flowers Blairgowrie, attended our event and told us about some of the innovative steps they have already taken to reduce waste.
“We currently use plastic vases made from recycled milk bottles, and to reduce waste further we offer a 10% off scheme for customers who bring back their vase to be refilled, or a £1 refund on returning the vase. This is a good alternative to cellophane wrapping and has greatly reduced our single use plastic output. We are also experimenting with biodegradable cellophane and will be looking into using papers to wrap our flowers.”
Branching out further, Something Special Flowers have recently introduced upcycled furniture to the store as display units. Stephen explained their next step is to find the best way to recycle green waste. With a bit of thought, ongoing commitment and support from Circular Tayside, it is always possible to do more to make positive change.
Working together to reduce waste, Elayne Buchan from Crocodile Shoes in Kirriemuir has linked up with the local church and donates all waste cardboard shoe boxes for making up of well-being packs, sent to those in need across the world. Kirriemuir Food Hub collected boxes from Elayne over the Christmas break to create fantastic food hampers, delivered to local people facing food insecurity.
A driving principle behind their family run, vegan business, The Black Cat Soap House from Kirriemuir try to live kindly towards people, animals and the planet. They are committed to creating as little waste as possible, to avoiding plastic, and to reducing and reusing whatever they can.
Nicola from The Black Cat Soap House told us more about what they are doing to meet these values during the session…
“We sell most of our bars as “naked” slices and reduce the price for products purchased this way. We do offer wrapped bars; wrapped in handmade/fair trade paper with recycled paper bands. Our creams and oils are sold in glass jars and we’ll take back empties to clean, sanitise and reuse; we give customers money off their next purchase for every jar returned! We use ingredients which are produced in a sustainable way and always choose organic and fair trade where possible.
Our information leaflets, order slips and soap bands are all printed on recycled paper.
Most orders are posted in packaging which has been collected from family, friends, and suppliers, and reused; fastened with paper tape. We encourage local customers to return the packaging and waste paper is shredded and used for padding. We upcycle used gift boxes by decorating them with handmade paper and cut offs; when filled with our products they make unique gift sets and are perfect for reuse themselves!
Other activities include saving and drying coffee grounds and using them in our Chocolate Orange soap. We produce in small batches which ensures freshness and that we rarely have surplus going to waste. Occasionally, if the product is not up to the high standard that we expect then we use them ourselves, share with family and friends, sell as “seconds” or give them away. Soap rejects are grated up and used for the laundry and household cleaning.”
Black Cat Soap House are trying to do everything that they can and believe that everything, however small it seems, makes a difference. Sustainable Kirriemuir and Circular Tayside are here to help our local businesses make a smooth and supported transition to operating in a circular manner. One example of this is the Circular business canvas that Circular Tayside worked through with Black Cat Soap House in early 2021. The process allowed for other resource use and waste to be identified, which led to reducing Black Cat Soap House’s waste and CO2 emissions even further. We hope that with this ongoing support, Kirriemuir will become a model town for a circular economy in the near future.
Thank you to Black Cat Soap House, Something Special Flowers, Crocodile Shoes for their fantastic efforts and featuring in this article, and thank you to Circular Tayside for their ongoing brilliant support in this area, as well as hosting our Circular Economy business support session.
Are you interested in receiving support in reducing your business waste, improving your business circularity or in promoting your current efforts? If so, please get in touch with Circular Tayside Manager Vaso Makri by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive fantastic support in taking steps towards circularity and sustainability!
This activity was part of our Scottish Government Climate Challenge Funded project, Nourish Kirriemuir. For more information on the project please contact Lauren, the Sustainable Kirriemuir Learning and Events Leader at email@example.com. Join in with our climate conversation on our Facebook page or group @sustainablekirrie. Sign up and become a member with Sustainable Kirrie here: https://sustainable-kirriemuir.mailchimpsites.com/membership. Or sign up to our mailing list, by visiting our website https://www.sustainablekirriemuir.co.uk/.