Scottish leaders attend major event in collective drive to tackle climate change by transforming waste into new wealth

Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network - challenged business to reduce waste or turn waste into wealth to prevent catastrophic climate change at the Waste to Wealth event, held at Glasgow’s 200SVS.

Jeremy Darroch in conversation with Bryan Swanson at Scotland's Waste to Wealth, 19 Feb 2019

In October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning: we have just 12 years to mitigate the risk of catastrophic climate change. This date also marks the endpoint for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The risks of inaction are enormous, but so too are the opportunities that could be created from a prosperous and resilient low carbon economy. Governments, investors and consumers are waking up to the challenge and as a result, businesses must rethink their business models to remain successful.

The event follows a successful Waste to Wealth summit held in London on 22nd November 2018 hosted by event partner Veolia. Over 200 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society gathered to tackle this challenge head-on and the summit included a keynote address from HRH The Prince of Wales in which he addressed the urgent need to tackle the resource issue in the UK and explained why business is best placed to meet this challenge.

Key aims of Scotland’s Waste to Wealth:

  1. Introduce the Waste to Wealth commitment to Scotland and outline BITC’s action plan, which will help businesses deliver on this commitment, encouraging new signatories
  2. Provide expert input on key areas of waste management, which must be tackled together in order to achieve the commitment
  3. Showcase businesses who are transforming their business practice in an Innovation Zone, to provide inspiration and recognise the progress already underway
  4. Provide expert input on key issues including food waste, the built environment and natural capital.


Experts and key speakers included Jeremy Darroch, BITC's Chairman and CEO of Sky. Through Sky Ocean Rescue, Sky has committed to eliminating all single use plastics from its own operations, products and supply chains by 2020 while also financially supporting and encouraging new innovation to develop solutions that combat the damage caused by single use plastics in our oceans. Scotland’s Waste to Wealth was delivered in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.

Waste to Wealth Commitment signatories are committing to the following actions:

  1. Set targets to improve the productivity of resources that are key for our business.  
  2. Work collectively towards doubling the nation’s resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2030, contributing in the way that is most relevant to our business.
  3. Redesign how resources are used in our products, services and operations.
  4. Collaborate across our organisations, value chains and sectors.
  5. Reconvene and report on progress annually to share learning and demonstrate results.

Jeremy Darroch, CEO of Sky plc and Chair of Business in the Community, said: 
“We know that we only have 12 years to change our relationship with the resources we use in order to avoid catastrophic climate change and restore the health of our environment. The clock is ticking. If businesses were presented with a similarly concerning outlook on the state of their markets, the competency of their core products or the future of their customer base they would use all the power and influence at their disposal to change track. To pivot in order to secure their future. That is why we are calling on business leaders to use these same skills, mentality and approach to tackle the environmental challenge before us.”

Alan Thornburrow, Scotland Director of Business in the Community, said:
The old adage ‘waste not want not’ has never been more relevant and now research shows that customers welcome action from business which encourages them to do the right thing. While the UK Industrial Strategy deadline of doubling our nation’s resource productivity and eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 is ambitious, our responsible business network can help accelerate progress and aim to achieve this by 2030. Businesses can start by finding out what their resource footprint is. Let’s tackle this critical problem together and lead the world in doing so.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:
Waste costs businesses money. In the Scottish hospitality sector alone, an estimated £200 million worth of food is wasted each year. Instead of putting money in the bin, all businesses have the potential to minimise their overheads while protecting the planet. Food waste has a serious and undeniable impact on the environment, but it’s not too late to do something about it. By preventing food waste as much as possible in the first place and recycling the rest, businesses use fewer resources and spend less money. It’s a win-win situation.

Cath Denholm, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Deputy Chair, said:
SNH is pleased to come together with partners for this summit which comes at a critical time for the planet’s resources.  SNH has a strong track record in sustainability and we have signed up to the Waste to Wealth Commitment.  Scotland’s natural resources underpin Scotland’s competitive advantage and help to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy. Investing in Scotland’s natural assets is essential to sustaining these benefits into the future and it’s great to see businesses are coming together to find ways to do this.