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Circular economy success is a sign of the times

Posted: 5th December 2019

Bare Branding was set firmly on the path of playing its part in creating a sustainable, circular economy twelve years ago when challenged to help a client reduce landfill waste.

Their solution was to help one of the biggest companies of its kind in Scotland slash what it sends to landfill by 70% – by repurposing and reusing their waste.

Now this not-for-profit Community Interest Company is working with a range of local charities, groups, artists and individuals to help them create and produce their own printed signage and other printed materials in the most sustainable and ethical ways through their open-access “bare-hub” studio.

The way we traditionally design, build and use products means that a lot of it goes to waste. 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.

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. 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.

Founder and Director Noel Spender explained: “Bare Branding’s first contribution to a circular economy actually started ten years ago when I was asked to help to provide a solution to reduce the landfill waste for Property Displayed, one of the largest companies of its kind in Scotland, which makes and erects For Sale and To Let signs for solicitors and estate agents. The materials used are a plastic polypropylene for the sign and white pine for the poles.

“Polypropylene is a robust light weight material. No other non-plastic substitute is available. While these signs can be sent out time and again, the companies who use these boards may change their designs and the printed surfaces do get worn. This leads to them becoming unsuitable for further re-use.

“My solution was to invest in an inkjet printer and a laminator that re-covers the existing board with a thin membrane of printed plastic, allowing the core board to be reused over and over again. This has reduced their waste sent to landfill by 70%. Similar savings are made with the wooden poles by simply re-painting them with water-based paints and introducing them to new markets.

“When the signs are too damaged to be reused they are offered back to the market place, at present to artists and designers to make use of the core board.”

Polypropylene Plastic sheet material used in the industry can be recycled but it requires several tons to be collected to be viable. Due to the robust nature of these plastics they provide a good structural material with the potential for repeat reuse. Bare Branding currently clean, refurbish and re-size this material and encourage anyone in the community to take it away. Artists, charities, schools, local makers and campaign groups have all made good use of these materials.

Noel is a strong advocate for the need for more education around the efficiency, benefits and potential of a circular economy. He said: “Far more has to be done to raise awareness that recycling, although useful, should be the last resort as it can be the least efficient way to solve our waste management.

“For companies to engage we must start with education, awareness-raising and financial support to ease the transition to a circular economy.

“Educating and investment is the best solution. Support needs to be offered to people who have innovative solutions to global problems. Scotland must identify and prioritise funding for new and innovative products that are socially responsible, profitable and sustainable.”

For further information please visit https://www.edinburghchamber.co.uk/circular-edinburgh/ or contact Mayan Grace or Lauren Ridgley on 0131 221 2999 (option 5) or email circulareconomy@edinburghchamber.co.uk

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.
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