Why SMEs are important

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Professor Laura Galloway 

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Dr Laura Jackman 
Laerke Salhauge-Rasmussen

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SMEs and the Circular Economy: Experiences and Challenges

A study of the experiences and challenges of adopting circular economy practices amongst SMEs in Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland is a not-for-profit environmental organisation funded by the Scottish Government



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SMEs are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises that employ fewer than 250 people. 

99% of Scottish firms are SMEs. They employ 43% of the private sector workforce and contribute 60% of private sector turnover¹. This is similar to other modern economies, for example, in the UAE 95% of firms are SMEs, contributing 60% GDP²


There were good levels of engagement with the principles of sustainability and CE in SMEs 

SME owner-managers appreciate that because of their close relationships with customers they can make an important contribution to the dissemination of knowledge about CE and sustainability to consumers and wider society

CE practices are regarded as good for business in that they promote efficient use and reuse of resources

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    1. The costs savings of CE practices are advantageous
    1. CE practices are reported to be well-received by customers

There are also significant challenges though

Costs of implementation

Lack of knowledge and skills associated with CE technologies and practices