Raw materials critical to the Scottish Economy

For Information

There has been significant global media attention and emerging policy developments around the risks that natural resource availability poses to economic growth, the environment and political stability. The Zero Waste Plan and Low Carbon Economic Strategy published by the Scottish Government, recognises that Scotland’s economy relies heavily on raw materials, but very little was been known about which materials are critical to the economy and the security of their supply.

A research report — Raw Materials Critical to the Scottish Economy has been published that explores the risks faced by businesses in Scotland and identify the resources with supply risks. Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland were all involved in supporting and advising the research.

The report has identified twelve priority materials which are critical to the Scottish economy and are likely to be subject to supply shocks in the short to medium term, as well as the seven sectors of the economy which may be vulnerable. It has also concluded that resource risks may provide an opportunity for Scottish businesses, in the form of new technology solutions and alternative methods of working, which will not only improve business operating efficiencies but also improve business reputation, environmental performance and consumer opinion, for example:

  • Preserving primary resources, in particular sustainable management of renewable resources such as timber, fish and palm oil.
  • Recovery of critical materials from processes and products to ensure they are available for future use (firmly establishing closed loop resource use and retaining the value of resources within the Scottish economy).
  • Identifying alternative materials which face lower supply risks and environmental impact.
  • Reducing environmental and social impacts of extraction of primary resources.
  • Improving process efficiencies to ensure valuable resources are not wasted and reduce our overall climate impact. It has been estimated that resource efficiency could deliver 10% of the carbon reductions needed by 2020.
  • Reducing waste to landfill and avoiding loss of valuable resources, and reducing the financial and environmental cost of landfill disposal as we move towards a Zero Waste Society.

If you would like to your register interest in receiving further information about this subject and/or participate in any future events to explore the issue in more detail, please let us know at environmental.strategy@sepa.org.uk — providing us with your name, organisation, postal address, telephone number and email address. And if relevant, a note regarding your particular area of interest, eg, sector, material, research, recovery options, examples of best practice.

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