Circular Economy in the Welsh Public Sector

Designing Out Waste & Retaining Value


To lead the way on climate action in Wales, Welsh Government set the ambition for the public sector in Wales to be net zero by 2030. Delivering services which touch upon so many areas of our life, the public sector has an important role to play in achieving widespread decarbonisation targets. However, this will not be possible without the adoption of circular economy practices. It is critical that the public sector in Wales works with the supply chain to identify cost effective innovative solutions to reduce emissions and enable long term value creation.

Moving to a circular economy is key to the delivery of environmental outcomes. Crucially it also has the potential to improve economic and social outcomes in Wales support value-based healthcare and socially responsible procurement. Aligning with Welsh Government’s commitment to reduce our dependency on single-use plastics as quickly as possible, this challenge seeks to deliver sustainable innovations that will address the use of single-use products in the public sector, supporting increased resilience in Welsh supply chains and encouraging green growth and population wellbeing across Wales. Successful applicants, and their public sector partner, will be expected to deliver demonstration and/or scale and spread innovative projects which can evidence the potential benefits, cost effectiveness and sustainability of their solutions.


Challenge Theme

Typically, SBRI challenges do commence with a Phase 1 Feasibility stage, however for this challenge we are looking for demonstrations and real-world trials and therefore will not be supporting a Phase 1. We are seeking to identify and support the delivery of a combination of both Phase 2 & Phase 3 collaborative projects, that can demonstrate the potential and scalability of emerging and near-market solutions:

  • Designing out waste – reimagining products used in the public sector so that they are designed from the outset to enable more effective reuse, minimise waste and reduce whole-life costs
  • Retaining value for reuse – enabling current ‘waste’ to be repurposed, extracting the value and enabling them to be reused within Wales to reduce the use of virgin materials and potentially supporting revenue generation.

The key focus will be on demonstrating sustainability of service, affordability and scalability of solutions that can be delivered at pace – doing better but being cash neutral is not sufficient in the current financial climate so financial viability will be key. We are looking to test emerging / near-to market innovations via real-world trials and are not seeking early feasibility/research pieces, at this stage. However, we are seeking rigorous evaluations to create an evidence base for further development and potential scale-up across Wales.

If project applications are seeking to build upon previous trials/small-scale testing, applications must clearly articulate how this funding will help accelerate more wide-spread development, outlining any previous adoption barriers and demonstrating how these will be addressed.

  • All projects must include a named public sector collaborator who has committed to their involvement in the project, evidenced by a signed letter of support;
  • Funding for public sector collaborator costs should be included as a subcontractor cost in the project applications;
  • Projects can include more than one subcontractor however, the involvement and role of each organisation should be clearly specified, and the commitment evidenced, ideally with named individuals stated in the application;
  • Multi-sector applications will be welcomed – in particular, applications that demonstrate significant benefits for Local Authorities, NHS & Third Sector organisations.
  • Academic partners are also welcomed, particularly if in relation to independent evaluation and meeting any required technical/scientific testing.


How can solutions address the challenges?

Innovative solutions could: –

  • Demonstrate the viability, scalability and affordability of new products and services that can reduce the environmental impact of the public sector in Wales
  • Promoting better opportunities for recyclable material in both the creation, reuse and disposal of products supplied to the public sector – designing in circularity from the outset.
  • Increased recycling and repurposing of public sector waste
  • Reduction in collected waste for off-region treatment (reducing carbon footprint).
  • A capital reduction as solutions may have either a cost reducing effect or possible revenue generation capability.
  • Establishment of local manufacturing partnerships and facilitate access into project partner organisations.


Out of Scope 

We are not looking to fund projects which:

  • Do not have at least one Welsh public sector collaborator.
  • Are purely focussed on feasibility – we are seeking real-world practical demonstration (not academic/research papers).
  • Cannot evidence engagement with potential future customers to understand needs.
  • Fails to address how any potentially negative outcomes would be managed.
  • Cannot evidence how a proposal will generate positive economic or societal impact.
  • Fails to consider affordability & practicality of widespread implementation.


Funding Allocation & Project Details

This challenge is open to applications that deliver either a Phase 2 or Phase 3 project. Current funding of £1million is available to a portfolio of projects – which may be subject to change, dependent upon the number/quality of submissions received. We are seeking a broad range of projects, from £50,000 for rapid, potentially low-cost demonstrations to up to £400,000 for large scale demonstrators, however costs must be clearly substantiated and value for money demonstrated. We reserve the right to consider an increased budget for exceptional applications if the scale of the delivery across Wales warrants it.

Projects will be selected on a portfolio approach to ensure activity and evidence is gathered on a broad demographic basis across Wales.

Phase 2: prototype demonstration and evaluation – This should result in a real-world demonstrator or pilot programme to be developed and tested in conjunction with end users.

Phase 3: Spread and Scale – Supporting broader demonstration of successful near-to market projects across a variety of locations/demographics, providing evidence of the potential for spread and scale across Wales on a place-based approach, considering local assets, existing services and local un-met needs.

Project costs can be claimed for the innovation solution provider and for staffing resource requirements of the Welsh public sector collaborator. This should be specified within the challenge application with clear roles stated – ideally with named individuals for each role. Timescales may be subject to change but this will be considered on a project basis, and funding allocation will remain the same – for example, if four-season data is required in support of your solution, please highlight this in the application for consideration.

Your application must:

  • Involve at least one Welsh Business.
  • Demonstrate a clear plan for commercialisation and a route to market for affordable, developed solutions;
  • Explain the potential positive contribution to the goals of Wales Innovates: creating a stronger, fairer, greener Wales, and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act;
  • Consider, and address where necessary, equality, diversity and inclusion aspects across your project, your sector(s) and society;
  • Address how any potentially negative outcomes would be managed;
  • Work throughout with at least one Welsh public sector collaborator
  • Ensure personal safety is paramount and any risks clearly articulated with robust mitigation in place;
  • Include a full evaluation following project completion – this should include a benefits analysis and an economic analysis.

Please note any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution although we may choose to investigate and explore innovative procurement routes as part of this challenge.

The total funding available for the competition can change and the funders reserve the right to adjust the provisional funding allocations, I.e., should additional funding become available.

The funder also reserves the right to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach to ensure funds are allocated across a broad range of strategic and geographic areas. This may mean that a proposal that scores less than yours may be successful. The portfolio can be spread across a range of:

  • scope areas
  • project durations
  • project costs, including demonstrating value for money

Briefing Event

To register for the virtual Briefing Event, to be held on Thursday 16th November at 10am, please follow the link below:

Circular Economy in the Public Sector SBRI Challenge – Briefing Event Tickets, Thu 16 Nov 2023 at 10:00 | Eventbrite


Application Process

Directions on how to enter this competition can be found via: Circular Economy in the Welsh Public Sector




Open date2nd November 2023
Briefing event16th November 2023
Close dateMidday 5th January 2024
Assessment9th – 11th January 2024
Shortlist agreed & Suppliers notified12th January 2024
Meet and Greet with Suppliers18th January 2024
Decision ReleaseW/C 22nd January 2024
Phase 1 contracts awardedW/C 22nd January 2024
Projects Commence5th February 2024
Projects Complete29th November 2024
Final Report Submission Deadline13th December 2024

*All dates may be subject to change


Appendix 1 – Policy Context  

NHS Wales Decarbonisation Strategic Delivery Plan (

beyond-recycling-strategy-document.pdf (

Value Based Procurement – Value in Health (

Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015: the essentials [HTML] | GOV.WALES

A Healthier Wales (

Wales innovates: creating a stronger, fairer, greener wales (

The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act | GOV.WALES


This competition has ended.