By Karen Peattie

AN action plan to help social enterprises, charities and community organisations make the transition to carbon net zero will include £5 million of funding to boost growth potential and put the social enterprise model at the heart of Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.

The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund, launched by Social Investment Scotland (SIS) and Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), aims to support social enterprises and the wider third sector towards carbon neutrality through activities including waste reduction, energy consumption, transitioning to sustainable transport options, and the adoption of circular economy business models.

Managed by SIS, the fund will provide loans to successful applicants starting from £10,000. However, up to £20,000 may be available as part of a blended loan and grant offer to organisations with a particular focus on circular economy projects that deliver new or additional reuse, repair, or leasing/sharing activity, resulting in positive carbon benefits.

The new fund forms part of the Scottish Government’s £30m Third Sector Growth Fund, which was announced in March this year. It supports the ambitions of SIS, ZWS and the Scottish Government to make waste minimisation and reuse the first-choice option for the consumer.

Chris Jamieson, head of investments at SIS, said that Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy required “bold and innovative solutions from every sector of our economy, including our social enterprise and third sectors”.

He added: “These organisations have a key role to play in ensuring that this transition is fair and just, due to their ability to deliver social and environmental impact. However, their ambitions are often constrained by the limited resources at their disposal.

“The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund will provide finance to support these ambitions, helping Scotland’s third sector adopt earth-friendly practices while contributing products and services to address one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Many social enterprises and charities in Scotland are already adopting circular economy practices and solutions.

The charity Community Transport Glasgow (CTG), for example provides high-quality, accessible, door-to-door transport for vulnerable individuals and groups in Glasgow, transporting 75,000 passengers each year. CTG is in the process of replacing its entire fleet of diesel minibuses with electric vehicles.

Glasgow-based ethical retailer Locavore also embeds circular economy thinking into every aspect of its operations. Not only does the social enterprise help customers reduce plastic consumption through the availability of package-free options but it has also set out a major target to be carbon negative by March 2023, through the use of electric delivery vans, use of green energy, and a commitment to waste recycling.