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Outdoors circular innovation comes in from the cold

Posted: 6th April 2020

Mark Stewart 2020 was the winner of the Innovation in Circular Economy at this year’s Edinburgh Chamber Business Awards held in February.

Mark Stewart “I have an interest in the outdoors and it is that interest in the natural environment which really drives my concern for responsible and sustainable practices.”

The way we traditionally design, build, use then dispose of products means that a lot 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, which will invest £73m in circular economy and resource efficiency projects, thanks to support from the 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.

Mark added: “The opportunity is to discover new practices that make sense, both on an environmental and a financial level. Once you can train your eye to spot those win-win openings, then the potential is endless.

I am working hard to implement a wetsuit takeback scheme. This involves customers returning old and unusable wetsuits, in return for a discount on a new wetsuit. My plan is to rework the old wetsuit into a new product which can then be sold on and given a new life.”

Mark was delighted with the Award win: “It is a great sign of recognition for the hard work I have put into to develop the business idea. It will also give a greater visibility to the wider business world in the long term.”

Mark also knows that consumers also play a huge part: “If customers begin to demand something, then you can be sure that businesses will spot that and then adjust their practices to appeal.

“It is not always easy, but the best place to start looking is to map out all of the ways in which you contribute negatively to the environment. Try to gauge the effect you are having in each aspect. You will then have an idea of where you can affect the biggest change.”

Scotland should set out to lead in Circular Economy thinking: “We can choose to either adopt it at a pace in keeping with the rest of the world and not benefit in any way from this change. Or we can choose to lead the way and push forwards, and benefit from the rewards that a leading position will afford. The shift towards green principles is very clear. If we are not leading then we are simply following.”

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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