Scotland Climate action and sustainable development

The Circular City: building a circular economy in Glasgow


Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Cllr Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction for Glasgow City Council outlines the importance of the circular economy to the council and how they plan to reduce the city’s waste and the impact on the planet as well as improve living standards for residents in the council’s first circular economy route map. 

The circular economy has been high on Glasgow’s agenda in recent years. We were delighted to publish our first circular economy route map, setting the standard with ambitious commitments across many sectors of the economy. At the heart of this route map is a determination to tackle the current, linear model of consumption. We are all too aware of the carbon impact of the city’s waste, and while we continue to develop more sustainable processes to manage our waste, it is essential that we reduce the number of resources that are ending up in the bin in the first place. This will be key to successfully addressing the climate emergency. And it is not a radical suggestion; in many ways, it returns us to more traditional principles of valuing the items we consume, and making efficient use of materials through repair and reuse as far as possible.

But we also have a responsibility to ensure that we improve the living standards of Glaswegians while we reduce our impact on the planet. So our approach to circularity has the wellbeing of our communities and people running right through it. Everyone can benefit from community sharing, repair and reuse, especially when these services are embedded in local neighbourhoods. So the route map will support social enterprise and community wealth building approaches. Food waste is carbon-heavy, so the council is supporting a range of initiatives that redistribute surplus food to those who most need it. Wastage of valuable resources costs us all, and disposal of waste has a financial as well as a carbon footprint for local authorities. As part of the route map we hope to work with partners to develop a City Doughnut for Glasgow, which identifies our city’s social foundation and ecological ceiling.

While it is still early days, there is already a significant amount of work flowing from the route map. Having identified several priority areas, such as textiles, construction and procurement, we are collaborating with partners in the city and beyond to take these forward, because we know we cannot achieve these ambitions alone. A textile forum is underway, enabling sharing of ideas and best practice, and ultimately the development of a textile strategy to minimise the wastage of such a valuable resource.

A construction forum will provide leadership as we address the challenge of salvaging, storing and reusing construction materials. Circularity must be designed into new buildings, to enable future reuse, as well as tackle the materials already contained in existing buildings. This is a complex area of work, but it has the potential to bring so many benefits in terms of costs, carbon and transport emissions.

Procurement can also have a substantial impact through the council influencing circular principles in our suppliers and contractors. We are conscious that using the public pound to ensure sustainable and considered choices will positively affect the types of products and services accessed by our organisation and raise the profile of sustainability amongst our external partners. It is crucial that we lead by example in the city, by embedding circularity into our everyday business.

Through the development of a circular economy, we will have countless opportunities to create fairer, more sustainable and successful communities across Glasgow. More considered use of our resources, and better lives for our people go hand in hand, and we now have a plan that will enable us to get there together.

To find out more about Glasgow’s work have a look at the city’s circular economy route map. If you have any questions you can contact Cllr Anna Richardson at [email protected]


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