Lucy Stanfield explains the Circular Economy Innovation Centre

Lucy Stanfield is a business development analyst at the Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability and is currently working on the upcoming Circular Economy Innovation Centre in Edinburgh.

What is a circular economy?

It’s the idea that we need to have a shift away from our current linear economy, where you take a resource out of the ground, you make it into a product and then you throw it away. The circular economy aims to create a closed-loop system: once a given product has come to the end of its life, you can transform it and reuse it. It also involves concepts like the sharing economy. Spotify is a great example: we used to always buy music on records or CDs but now it’s a digital copy, and so there is no waste in that. It is a wholesale change to the current economy.

Can you tell me about the plans for a Circular Economy Innovation centre in Edinburgh?

It is more achievable to make certain regions circular than the whole of Scotland. But you do need some kind of central facilitator to give people the knowledge, tools, skills, and support that they need. It will be a physical place somewhere in the city centre. There will be an online course and there is a master’s programme being developed in the association. It will also provide business support for everyone from student enterprise right up to larger industry.

What interesting examples of circular economy models have you come across?

There’s an interesting one from Jaw Brew, (a Glasgow-based brewing company), they take the bread offcuts from a nearby bakery and they turn that into a beer.
Edinburgh is really good for the repair economy. Take the Edinburgh Tool Library: you pay membership (£30 a year, £10 for students and other concessions) and you can hire out tools instead of buying your own because the average power drill is used for a total of 13 minutes in its lifetime.

What was your path to this job? I would never have even known this existed!

I used to work in strategy and business development for the education sector, but my academic background is in geography and climate science so I wanted to move back into the environmental sector. I saw this job, applied, and here I am! A key aspect of the centre will be networking events about future careers. As people say, most graduates will have jobs that didn’t exist when they were in school. The circular economy is such an innovative field.


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