Event Summary

The Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland was a major international event to showcase Scotland’s progressive approach to developing a circular economy and the best of Scotland’s burgeoning circular businesses to a national and global audience. The event took place from 30 October to 1 November 2018 in Glasgow.

With funding from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund, the three-day showcase was attended by over 400 delegates from 24 countries and was delivered by Zero Waste Scotland, in partnership with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

Programme highlights

Tuesday 30 October

The first networking opportunity to meet up with other delegates, arrange meetings, and relax after travelling took place at Glasgow’s Corinthian Club. The afternoon also allowed nations pitching for the Hotspot 2020 to present their pitch to the judging panel of previous and current Hotspot hosts. Opening the Hotspot in grand style with a civic reception, delegates received a warm welcome from the City of Glasgow's Lord Provost in the stunning setting of the Glasgow City Chambers Banqueting Hall.

Wednesday 31 October

The formal conference day of the Hotspot took place at Glasgow’s SEC and featured exciting keynote speakers including Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister of Scotland), Dr Janez Potočnik (Co-Chair of UN International Resource Panel and Former European Commissioner for Environment) and Dr Leyla Acaroglu, (Founder, Disrupt Design & UnSchool).

An Economics of a Circular World panel discussion took place between Scotland’s Chief Economic Advisor Gary Gillespie alongside Dr Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Alliance and Cynthia Reynolds of SmartUse Global.

The conference then moved onto cities and regions perspective of the circular economy with Miranda Schnitger of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation presenting on systems and interactions. This was followed by city specific showcases and workshops from Glasgow, Tayside, Edinburgh and the North-east of Scotland.

In the evening, delegates were welcomed to Glasgow’s stunning Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem for a Gala Dinner with introductory speeches from renowned circular economy pioneer Dr h.c Walter Stahel (Product Life) and Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland.

Thursday 1 November

Six distinct discovery tours were offered to delegates in bioeconomy, construction, food and drink, manufacturing, plastics solutions, and circular economy in the community. This allowed the opportunity for delegates to visit and hear talks from businesses actively implementing circular economy business models.  A total of 41 businesses participated in this part of the programme.

Buses then made their way back to the SEC Glasgow for the closing remarks which involved a panel discussion on “What’s next?” for the circular economy made up of: Louise McGregor, Head of Circular Economy, Zero Waste Scotland; Terry A’Hearn, CEO Scottish Environment Protection Agency SEPA; and Julia Vol, Government and Cities Network Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The conference then concluded with handing over the Hotspot baton to 2019 hosts Belgium and announcing that the Host for the 2020 Hotspot would be Catalonia.

To celebrate this and the success of the Hotspot overall, a closing Circular Taste Festival allowed delegates the chance to sample circular treats from Scotland’s food and drink sector. 

Media coverage

The Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland generated hundreds of news items across national, trade and international media. News from the conference included Scotland’s First Minister announcing investment of more than £700,000 in circular economy businesses and new research indicating the potential size of the circular economy in Scotland. Some of the media highlights included:


Thanks to all event delivery partners for making Circular Economy Hotspot Scotland possible and to businesses and speakers for participating in the programme.

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