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Building a new economy, brick at a time

Posted: 28th January 2020

Pioneering Circular Economy thinking is in with the bricks at one innovative company – based in Edinburgh – that is setting new standards in the construction industry.

Heriot-Watt University spin-out business Kenoteq manufactures ground-breaking building products for the construction industry. The company’s first product is an unfired brick called the K-Briq, made from over 90% recycled demolition and construction waste material.

Kenoteq has received funding and support from Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and the Royal Academy of Engineering. It is the only named product in the SEPA Housing Sector Plan 2019.

The way we traditionally design, build and use products means that a lot goes to waste. A circular economy looks to keep the flow of materials and products in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them.

The Circular Edinburgh project is supported as part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This programme provides funding and support for small and medium sized businesses in Scotland to be more resource efficient and create a more circular economy.

Kenoteq is excited to work with Circular Edinburgh and promote circular economy in the City.

Dr Sam Chapman of Kenoteq said: “The circular economy is the future of all physical products in our eyes. As raw materials, resources and space reduces through our ever-expanding consumption, re-use and recycling is vital to ensure continued development and progress. Cities will be mines of the future for construction, especially in already highly-developed countries. It also offers opportunities for synergies and new business models between sectors previously un-connected. The circular economy isn’t AN opportunity, it is THE opportunity.”

K-Briq produces 1/10th of the CO2 emissions of a traditional fired brick during its manufacture and uses 1/11th of the energy during production. It also offers double the insulation properties of existing bricks and blocks, thereby providing a tool for increased energy efficiency to architects and construction companies. It also uses no cement, does not need painting or surface treatment, and is fully recyclable as inert construction waste at end of life.

K-Briq is produced onsite at a recycling centre, thereby reducing the travel miles involved in its production.

“Up to 85 per cent of bricks used in Scotland are currently being imported from England or Europe raising considerable questions about the long-term sustainability of the sector. We want to see this change as Scotland works towards lower emission and higher recycling targets.”

Dr Chapman believes more companies can engage with the circular economy; “In our view, it is straightforward if your suppliers and input materials come from regulated and relatively local places. In particular, product manufacturers can highlight both their requirements for certain grade material, and also their waste services requirements. In an ideal world, this would be mapped for regions, regardless of industry, to fully understand material flows into and out of areas.”

Knowledge and research are key to ensuring we continue to make progress, he added: “Scotland needs to keep supporting start-ups and R&D programmes in this area, while also ensuring regulations continue to push all businesses further towards sustainability and circular economy thinking. Scotland’s scale gives it a huge advantage in developing the structures required to understand material flows in and out of a region, in order to find big wins and opportunities for delivering on sustainability goals.”

Zero Waste Scotland leads on delivery of the £73 million Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which aims to improve the economic performance of SMEs while at the same time reducing the impact of economic activity on the natural environment, supporting Scottish Government and EU policies.

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

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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.
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