News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Advocates for Circular Change

Posted: 6th March 2019

An innovative programme being run by an Edinburgh-based research and advocacy organisation is planting the seeds of Circular Economy thinking with the Capital’s citizens of the future.

Ostrero, which works across public and private sectors to promote engagement with the Circular Economy, runs an educational project called “Making Circles”, a series of workshops across Scotland that open up creative solutions to the question of waste reduction and elimination.

Mary Michel, co-founder, said: “ We take professional designers into schools and work with pupils to consider what the Circular Economy is, why we need it, and how circular design could transform our future, eliminating waste and protecting our increasingly scarce natural resources.

“Children design and make a model along circular principals, such as designing for disassembly and considering the whole life cycle of each component. Each workshop ends with a discussion about practical steps the children could make to eliminate waste.

“A school we worked with recently said that before the Making Circles workshop, none of the children knew what the Circular Economy was, but that after the workshop 90% of the participating children understood it.”

This year-long project, which will take Ostrero from schools in Edinburgh to Dumfriesshire to the Highlands and Islands, will culminate in a display and event at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The aim of this is to highlight the many benefits of the Circular Economy to as wide an audience as possible.

A circular economy looks to keep the flow of materials and products within the economy for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use.  It’s where businesses, industry and consumers work together to make things last.

Circular Edinburgh is a joint initiative delivered by Zero Waste Scotland and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, with funding support from the European Regional Development Fund. The Chamber is delivering a range of local activities to help identify opportunities for local businesses and direct them towards available support and funding.

Ostrero is also at an important stage of R&D on a project to provide a practical and fully circular solution to single-use plastics in catering and events, but because of the stage they are currently at with this project they can only say that it aims to significantly cut waste and carbon emissions in one of Edinburgh’s most popular sectors – food, drink and events.

Ostrero was founded in Edinburgh in 2016 with the express purpose of growing the Circular Economy in Scotland. Mary Michel said: “We live in a world of finite resources but we act as if our resources were infinite. This endangers our environment and puts pressure on our increasingly scarce resources.

“Add to this the 3 billion new consumers expected in the next 30 years and there simply won’t be enough resources to go around. We need to make changes to the way we use our resources now. The good news is that the Circular Economy offers a workable way to do this – it’s about rethinking how and why we use resources, and making sure we extract the maximum value from everything we create or do.

“This is also good news for business as this tightening up of systems results in a more efficient and profitable business.”

She firmly believes that an effective Circular Economy needs collaboration across all sectors. “It needs systemic change across all sectors. What’s great is that there are opportunities for businesses in all spheres of activity – from manufacturers to service providers and everything in between – to engage with the Circular Economy.”

“I think Scotland has all the ingredients to become a global leader in the Circular Economy. With so much bad news out there, it’s an exciting prospect to be part of growing the Circular Economy in Scotland.”

Circular Edinburgh is an initiative funded by Zero Waste Scotland, supported by funding from both the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund through the £73million Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme. Circular Edinburgh delivers a programme of knowledge sharing events, workshops and roundtable discussions to promote the “Circular Economy” to local businesses.

For further information please visit or contact Mayan Grace or Aileen Boyle on 0131 221 2999 (option 5) or email


Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here