Edinburgh firm at heart of tech project to reduce nine billion tonnes of global waste

An Edinburgh-based analytics specialist has embarked on a project to demonstrate how new technologies can unlock the value of the nine billion tonnes of waste produced globally.

Michael Groves is the chief executive of Topolytics, based in Edinburgh. Picture: Claire Watson Photography

Topolytics has joined forces with software giant SAP to work on the COP26 Waste Insights Project, which will bring together and analyse data from consumer goods, retailers, waste managers, investors and government organisations.

The project ties in with the Scottish Government’s circular economy agency Zero Waste Scotland.

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Data gathered from “co-innovation partners”, including Scots beer-maker BrewDog, Coca-Cola European Partners and packaging firm DS Smith feeds into Scotland’s Waste and Resources Map – a live view showing the flow of materials from, through and out of Scotland.

Michael Groves, chief executive of Topolytics, said: “Our ambition is to make the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable. This starts with really understanding what is happening in the waste system – which is complex and opaque.

“Our work with SAP and its customers is generating insights into the many pathways and outcomes for their production and post-consumer waste. This drives resource and cost efficiencies, enhances their reporting and can support their circular economy goals.”

Mike Barry, director at Mikebarryeco and advisor to the Waste Insights Project, said: “It’s imperative that we build a circular economy for the trillions of items we consume globally each year.

“This will not happen by chance. We need deep insight into where and how resources can be recovered across literally millions of touchpoints in homes, high streets, cafes, factories and warehouses.

“This exciting SAP initiated project will help policy makers, innovators, corporations, designers, the resource sector and investors make a circular future a scale reality.”

Co-innovation partners are able to understand what happens to industrial and post-consumer packaging waste. These insights allow them to design interventions that drive greater recovery of these materials, enable resource efficiencies​, and identify cost savings on waste prevention, Topolytics added.

Martin Dickie, co-founder of Ellon-based BrewDog, which has grown to become one of the UK’s biggest brewers, said: “As part of our net zero carbon plan we are driving waste out of our business and finding ways to maximise the use of by-products and packaging.”

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