The Welsh government has unveiled a £6.5m (€7.5m) fund to help SMEs make the transformation towards a circular economy. The Principality leads the UK in recycling targets and would place 4th in the EU if it were a member state.
The Circular Economy Capital Investment Fund (CECIF), which kicks off in 2019, will assist businesses in various ways; from increasing recycling for hospitality, tourism and food services sectors, to improving the use of recycled content in products manufactured in Wales.
The news was delivered late last week by Wales Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths, who said: “The £6.5m fund underlines our commitment to moving towards a circular economy.
“This will help businesses save money by becoming more resource efficient and resilient, an approach that will deliver numerous environmental benefits including less waste and reduced CO2 emissions.”
The fund will help Wales towards the milestones of 70% recycling by 2025 and 100% recycling by 2050, as set out in the Welsh government’s waste strategy Towards Zero Waste. Recent studies have found the adoption of a circular economy could save the Welsh economy up to £2bn and has the potential to create up to 30,000 jobs.
Wales already leads the way in the UK on recycling rates, which last year jumped to 60%, exceeding a national 58% recycling target for 2015/2016.
The figures reveal that the country has doubled the amount of waste it has recycled over the past decade, thanks in the main to a close collaborative relationship between the Welsh government and local authorities.
Germany, the EU’s most influential country and its leading recycler, has called for recycling targets in the European Commission’s Circular Economy package of green laws to be scrapped.
“We are proud [that] if Wales were an EU member state, we would be fourth in terms of the amount we recycle,” added Griffiths. “We will continue to advocate the widespread adoption of a circular economy among businesses and our European partners as we aim towards the ambitious targets we have set ourselves in Towards Zero Waste.”
Wales’ circular economy fund follows a similar initiative launched by the Scottish government which aims to better support the nation’s SMEs in embracing the shift to a circular economy.
The circular economy regions funding scheme is part of an £18m (€20.6m) circular economy investment programme being managed by Zero Waste Scotland.
South of the border, a new business support programme was recently created by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) to enable SMEs in London to adopt and scale up circular business models.
The project was announced in the same week that research discovered that only four London boroughs out of the 32 are above the national domestic recycling average of 44.9%.