Circular economy, bio-economy and innovation by Roland Arnison

Consultancy Services

Shearwater consultancy provide a range of consultancy services, centred on helping organisations benefit from the circular economy.

My role varies according to the needs of my clients – adviser, researcher, analyst, communicator, catalyst – or often a mix of these. I provide insight, write briefing papers, analytical and strategic reports, carry out feasibility studies, connect people and businesses, deliver training, find funding and manage projects.

I work with a wide range of organisations – from entrepreneurs setting up innovative new enterprises to public agencies looking to help develop a circular economy. Whether on a one-off commission or a longer-term role, I work either directly with my clients, or alongside other trusted consultancies.

I can help you understand, explore and develop opportunities in the circular economy.

Some recent work I have carried out:


Svalbard arctic farm development

Helping Polar Permaculture in Longyearbyen, Svalbard to develop a pioneering arctic farm. The aim is to grow a variety of foods for Svalbard’s residents and visitors all through the year, while also recycling the town’s food wastes and potentially generating renewable energy. The challenges include 24 hour darkness in winter, extreme weather and occasional visits from polar bears.
Shearwater Consultancy is providing a range of services including mentoring, business planning and technical design of the farm itself. The technical design includes specifying the greenhouses and buildings, heating, lighting, ventilation and growing systems as well as integration with composting and anaerobic digestion technologies.

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Future waste options for Orkney islands

A project to identify, assess and recommend options for the future management of Orkney’s household and business wastes, allowing for the scale, location and characteristics these islands. A key objective was to find circular economy benefits and similar opportunities to extract local value from the wastes to contribute to the Orkney economy. The study including assessing options for influencing which materials end up as waste, increased local recycling, separate food waste recycling and energy recovery from residual wastes, as well as options for micro scale local solutions on the smaller islands.
The study concluded with recommendations for an innovative circular-economy themed waste strategy for the Orkney Islands, which could serve as a template for other island economies.


Support and promotion of bio-economy innovation in Scotland

A 12 month project to promote and support pioneers of circular economy solutions for biological materials. This included identifying a wide range of businesses developing relevant innovations, writing case studies and providing bespoke support projects to help the businesses commercialise their technologies. The innovations supported included:
•  High productivity, high efficiency, low carbon food production systems using recycled plant nutrients, suitable for urban farming.
•  Nutrient recovery from wastewaters through algae production, producing algal biomass for processing into aquaculture feeds, nutritional supplements and commodity chemicals.
•  Use of microbial fuel cells to generate renewable energy from organic wastewaters at small scale.


Circular economy potential of the Small Isles

The idea for this study came out of a conversation with members of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust about the next steps in developing the island’s green economy. The project involved discussions with many people and organisations on the Scottish islands of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna. A wide range of opportunities were identified ranging from the practical to the visionary, using small scale technologies and business models based on the islands’ wastes and resources. These related to electricity supply, heating, transport, sewage treatment, beach litter, solid wastes and farming.

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Bio-economy opportunities in Orkney

This project identified and assessed opportunities for practical circular economy developments for Orkney’s food and drink sector. The work involved interviews with Orkney businesses, regulators and development agencies relating to farming, dairies, fish and shell fish processing, meat processing, distilleries, breweries and renewable energy.

The study identified a range of specific possible solutions, highlighted many systemic challenges and opportunities and proposed a collaborative approach towards developing the circular economy in Orkney to help boost its economy and contribute to the islands’ future resource resilience.


Circular Economy Evidence Building Programme: sector study on beer, whisky and fish

Major contributor and co-author for this project involving identifying the barriers, benefits and opportunities of circular economy approaches within and between the beer, whisky and fish sectors in Scotland. This study assessed the interplay between current resource use, products and wastes, the expected expansion of the sectors and the opportunities for a more circular approach which could lead to an estimated £800 million boost to the Scottish economy.


Funding and business support for new biogas plant

Worked closely with the founders of GWE Biogas produce a successful funding application from the Environmental Transformation Fund for a substantial grant towards construction of their innovative food waste anaerobic digestion plant with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes per year. Also carried out various consultancy support and analysis including application for a bespoke environmental permit for the company.


Funding, technical trials and business support of innovative aquaculture system

Won innovation funding and carried out a technical and commercial feasibility study of FloGro’s innovative shrimp production system in the UK. Their closed-loop inland aquaculture system integrates the shrimp into a managed ecosystem which also grows the main feed components for the shrimp. My role included project management of production trials, technical assessment, development of the business case and initial market research.