Striking gold from waste
Environment Secretary confirms funding for remanufacture hub.
Scotland’s remanufacturing sector could be entering a golden era with an innovative new research centre.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has highlighted the role that high value products and materials such as gold and electronic components, could play in the Scottish economy, if they are harnessed from disused TVs, mobile phones and computers. The Scottish Institute of Remanufacture, to be hosted by the University of Strathclyde, will be a pan-Scottish hub which will focus on realising the vast value in the materials and components within the products we recycle.
The £1.3m cutting-edge centre was announced by the Environment Secretary at the Scottish Resources Conference in Glasgow. He also confirmed the creation of a Scottish Materials Brokerage Service - a one stop shop to grow Scotland’s reprocessing sector, and help the public sector to get a better deal for the recycled materials collected from their communities.
Mr Lochhead said:
“It is astounding that an estimated £50 million worth of gold will potentially be wasted in Scotland in the next five years through disposal of electronics like computers and phones. By bringing a more circular approach to the way we manage our resources, we can change that. And by channelling expertise into better remanufacturing, we can ensure that valuable components can be recovered and reused.
“The Scottish Government is serious about creating a greener, more circular economy, where our valuable products and materials remain in useful circulation for longer, creating and sustaining jobs in the process.
“The challenge is to re-design products to make it easier to take them apart and remanufacture them into new products, and harness their true value. We need Scotland’s brightest and best minds to be focussed on achieving this more circular use of valuable products and materials and that is what the new Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will do.
“Our Materials Brokerage Service – the first of its kind in the UK – will see supply and demand for high value recycling matched up, providing certainty of supply for investors and certainty of demand for local authorities. Scotland’s public sector handles almost 3 million tonnes of waste materials per year. We need to ensure these materials get to the right place and the Brokerage Service will enable the resources collected by councils to be channelled into higher value use, while providing a good deal for the public sector and improving our recycling rates.
“Scotland can become an international leader on innovative waste solutions by creating a greener, more circular economy. I look forward to seeing further progress down this path with these two innovative schemes.”
Professor Scott MacGregor, Vice-Principal at the University of Strathclyde, said:
“The University of Strathclyde is committed to working with partners in industry and academia to advance technology to benefit the economy in Scotland and beyond. As home to the UK’s largest remanufacturing research group, the University is well-positioned to ensure Scotland is at the forefront of supporting remanufacturing and we are delighted to be hosting the new institute.”
The Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will be hosted by the University of Strathclyde and run in partnership with Heriot Watt University.
The £1.3m funding is over three years, with £1m from the Scottish Funding Council and £300k from Zero Waste Scotland. Companies based in Scotland have already pledged over £800k of funding, or in-kind support, for potential research projects for the Institute.
The estimated value of remanufacturing to the UK is £2.4-5.6 billion (source: UK All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group).
International companies such as Renault are already remanufacturing gearboxes using 80% less energy and creating 75% less waste than those made with new components. Within Scotland, over 60 companies are already active in remanufacturing across a variety of sectors such as automotive, electronics, energy infrastructure, aerospace and marine services.
It is estimated that between now and 2020, Scotland will import £50 million worth of gold through TVs, mobile phones and computers. This figure is based on the following UK wide research -