Circular economy in Telford
Telford is leading the UK in the transition towards a circular economy, a high-growth waste management industry to support many opportunities for investors.
The UK is leading the uptake and recycling of electronic waste (e-waste) and in Telford, investors can access a growing cluster of circular economy companies. They focus on large appliance e-waste and use the talent and wider industry ecosystem to seize the opportunities in this sector.
Telford (West Midlands)
Foreign direct investment
Green finance and innovation
Sector and market opportunity
The circular economy is an approach to the use of materials that keeps resources in circulation, in use, and in similarly valuable roles. In Telford, companies are capitalising on the value of local talent and local goods through leasing, re-using and re-processing for new uses.
Employing a circular economy for the e-waste sector improves sustainable production and consumption. It also increases resource efficiency and contributes to net zero and carbon emissions reduction goals.
The global e-waste market value is expected to soar up to $102.6 billion (£75 billion) by 2027, an increase from $42 billion (£31 billion) in 2019. Each year the world generates about 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste: the fastest-growing waste stream in the world.
Europe and the UK are leading the push to collect and recycle this waste, gathering 5.1 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019; the UK’s e-waste recycling rate hit 67% in 2018, rising from 22.5% in 2012.
The region provides a gateway opportunity for the design, building and operation of e-waste recycling technologies.
There are 10 leading universities within commuting distance for skills and R&D support.
In Telford and its neighbouring areas, basic metals manufacturing is more than 3 times as specialised as the national average, attracting companies such as Magna Cosma, a premier global automotive supplier, which has invested £100 million to set up an aluminium casting facility.
Telford is in the heart of the Midlands, close to Birmingham and linked to national and international markets with easy access to customers and suppliers.
The Telford International Railfreight Terminal accommodates a wide variety of intermodal freight logistics with direct links to the national rail network, major seaports, airports and key locations in Europe.
Most of the UK’s largest and busiest ports and airports are within a 4.5-hour freight drive from Telford.
Local talent and skills
Telford has a readily accessible, skilled workforce of 400,000 people.
The manufacturing sector accounts for 15.7% of total employment, almost double the national average at 8.1%.
The University of Wolverhampton offers undergraduate and master’s degrees across the engineering spectrum and has recently invested over £10 million in advanced engineering facilities. The Telford Innovation Campus, for example, provides students with access to technology at the forefront of engineering developments.
Research and expertise
At the Telford Innovation Campus, the University of Wolverhampton is supporting experts to develop products and services that reduce carbon usage through the Built Environment Climate Change Innovations (BECCI) project.
The Campus is also home to The Composite and Additive Layer Materials Engineering Research and Innovation Centre (CALMERIC). The centre is working with advanced engineering materials and technologies to develop lightweight, efficient, high-performance components.
The Midlands is home to the largest number of medical technology and device companies in the country. The region is ideally placed for the distribution of manufactured goods, reaching 92% of the UK population within 4 hours. Birmingham is at the heart of one of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects, HS2, and is set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Enabling clean growth
The growth of the e-waste market is driven by rising concern for the environment. Consumer preferences are shifting, pressuring industry and government to manage waste more sustainably. Most UK consumers think it’s important to buy eco-friendly and sustainable products.
Government and local councils are implementing policies to increase recycling, reduce waste and support investment into the circular economy. New technologies are also propelling the industry forward, creating many commercial opportunities.
Local and national government support
The UK government has launched several initiatives, including the clean growth strategy, to establish the circular economy in Britain and become net zero by 2050.
Telford’s local council aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and provides business support, including through the Marches Growth Hub, to stimulate clean innovation and entrepreneurship.
AO Recycling in Telford operates the largest centre for recycling old large home-appliances in the UK. The company built an 80-tonne machine to process 700,000 fridges annually (about 20% of the UK total).
The plant is probably the only one in the world to collect 100% of harmful gasses released from a fridge. The company’s fridge plastic plant can process enough materials to make 2.5 million new fridges every year.
AceOn is a specialist in solar and battery technology, developing custom-built battery packs to support renewable energy generation and storage.
The company was awarded £1 million from Innovate UK to work on a pilot project with Brill Power and Cranfield University. The project aims to upcycle used electric bus batteries into solar batteries. They’ll store energy from the grid at off-peak times to power the university’s buildings at peak times.
Immersive technology in the North East
Immersive technology is optimising the design, construction, operations and maintenance of assets across sectors including renewable energy, maritime and advanced manufacturing.
Compound semiconductors and applications in South Wales
South Wales is pioneering the way forward in designing, developing, and commercialising the compound semiconductors needed for a net zero economy.
Wastefront waste tyre recycling plant, Sunderland
Wastefront AS is offering an opportunity to invest around £100 million in the construction of a waste tyre recycling plant in Sunderland.
Hunterston Marine Yard in Scotland
A shovel-ready opportunity to invest in the re-commissioning of one of Europe’s largest dry docks, providing much needed capacity to the UK’s growing offshore wind farm industry.
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