Skip to content


Water and the circular economy - where is the greatest sustainable economic benefit for resource recovery in the water cycle?

Hydropower dam

Driven by environmental, social and economic benefits and the increasing pressure on resources, the need for more considerate use and recovery of resources is growing. In recognition of this, the EU has resource efficiency as a priority going forward. The “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” and the “Circular Economy Action Plan” point to green growth and circular economy principles as strategically important to delivering success. Within that context, water is critical. Water as a resource is limited and therefore reducing its use or increasing its reuse is key to the success of transitioning to a sustainable future.

Nationally, water resources and how these are managed are critical to informing the Scottish Government’s growth strategy, resource efficiency plans and developing a closed loop circular economy. The breadth of sustainable options to achieve this, from simple methods through to developing technologies, makes the decision on which is the best-fit option in any given scenario particularly difficult. This is especially so when weighing options with different costs, affecting different sectors (energy, water, etc.), and occurring on different timescales. Comparing various options within the same framework will help by providing a simple comparison to facilitate informed decision making.

Previous relevant CREW work includes: 

Project Objectives

The overall aim of this project is to identify where there is greatest benefit from resource recovery in the water cycle in Scotland. Specifically, to:

1. Carry out a short literature review of global best practice and on-going relevant work to: 

  1. Identify opportunities for resource recovery from the water cycle. This may include for example energy or cost savings through more efficient use of water, using energy produced currently as a waste product as a resource, or the recovery of nutrients and other components. 
  2. Develop and define the concept of ‘benefit’ in this context.

2. Assess each identified opportunity for all relevant parameters in order to determine the cost/benefit/feasibility of implementation across Scotland, with options presented in a report and graphically.