Business can thrive by going green

28 April 2022


By Alison McRae, Senior Director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

It was such a pleasure to be at our first in person gathering for the Circular Glasgow Network just last week. Embodied by the kind of ambition that we have come to know from this group, the event was enhanced by discussions from trail-blazing businesses who have ‘changemaker’ as a core part of their DNA coding.

The network brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, and circular economy enthusiasts from across the city to build and share their knowledge of a circular economy and its role in reaching net-zero targets whilst also delivering direct business and commercial value.

It is open to professionals from any business size or sector looking to join Glasgow’s growing circular economy movement and just last week we welcomed new members DRG, Rolls Royce, Dentons and DWF.

When we launched the Circular Glasgow Network back in 2019 in Ikea, we also launched a partnership with ReLondon to encourage transfer of knowledge and business between the two cities. I firmly believe there is much more to be done here and also the potential to expand links with other like-minded cities as we all continue to grapple with tackling the climate challenge.

Alongside the wider network, there is also a suite of over twenty Circular Glasgow Ambassadors such as Dr Warren Bowden of Scottish Leather Group, Lisa Lawson of Dear Green Coffee, Jo Chidley of Beauty Kitchen and Dr Duncan Booker of Glasgow City Council – who all have a specific role to support the city’s ambition towards becoming a circular city by 2045.

The importance of getting out of the ‘echo chamber’ and addressing the climate issue through a circular economy approach has been championed by several of our ambassadors and none more so than Janet Martin, Director of Commercial Banking Service at the Royal Bank of Scotland who was the keynote at the first of the Spotlight series.

It is probably not a huge surprise that this is now a core business theme for them, given that Alison Rose CEO of Natwest Group plays a global role within the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero – Co Chaired by Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg – which provides a forum for leading financial institutions to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy.

The Natwest Group has a bold strategic approach through their own targets which include halving the climate impact of their financial activity by 2030, while concluding lending and underwriting to companies who have more than 15% of their activities related to thermal and lignite coal, and to all major oil and gas companies unless they have a credible transition plan.

These broader objectives are vital but so too is the work taken at a local level by SMEs across Glasgow and the UK. They are a cornerstone of the economy providing some 60% of the country’s employment and 50% of the turnover as well as contributing 30% of the national carbon dioxide emissions.

It is fair to suggest that these SME’s will be instrumental in driving forward many creative and innovative solutions which will be required to ensure that the climate crisis is tackled at scale.

Martin’s drive and passion is palpable, and she is entirely open about asking how else the Royal Bank of Scotland can support a business to become circular.  It is just this kind of ‘changemaker’ mentality that the bank clearly thrives on.

Working with a customer base is key to delivering this but there is also an intention to develop the longer-term goals and relationships to accelerate this change. The next opportunity under development is a ‘Circular Economy Accelerator’ which launches in Glasgow and London next month and is open to all.

This new programme will help businesses of all sizes develop practices and nurture supply chains which will contribute towards a circular economy. Most crucial of all, it will provide real business value by reducing costs, regardless of sector or size.

This article was first published in The Herald on Wednesday 27 April 2022