Category Archives: Recycling

How a greener economy can help fix Europe’s labour market problems

This post is by Emily Coats and Dustin Benton, co-authors of a new Green Alliance briefing Job creation and the circular economy.

Labour markets are news again. Of course, the term never appears in the headlines, but the effects of a changing jobs market are front page news: Donald Trump, Norbert Hofer, Marine Le Pen and even the UK’s own EU referendum are the political expression of a battle between cosmopolitans, who benefit from a globalised economy, and those whose employment is at risk from globalisation, mechanisation and a declining manufacturing base. Read more

If we like recycling, why are we so bad at it?

recyclingThis post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

March was an odd month for anyone working on waste and resources. Thanks to Hugh’s War on Waste revealing that only 1 in 400 coffee cups is recycled, the recyclability of composite materials was suddenly headline news. This triggered a media furore over whether we were being misled by coffee shop claims about recycling their cups. To my slight surprise, the issue even united the Daily Mail and The Telegraph with The Guardian in their indignation. But even more striking was the disappointment and frustration expressed when people learnt that most coffee cups went to waste, despite them putting them in recycling bins. People really cared about whether their cups were recycled or not.
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The EU’s circular economy package is about a lot more than just recycling

Unemployment and circular economy graphic for homepageA version of this post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

The European Commission this week fired the starting gun on its circular economy programme, and the panoply of documents released shows that it will be a marathon, not a sprint. As you’d expect for a programme designed to usher in a “profound transformation of the way our entire economy works,” it contains 54 separate actions, with deadlines stretching from the end of this month to the end of 2018.
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Get new materials right from the start and everyone benefits

head of 3d printer in action, macro viewA version of this post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

Environmentalists and techno-optimists aren’t always the most comfortable bedfellows. The relationship has been strained by an approach to climate policy, popular amongst Bush-era Republicans, that suggests there is no need to do anything today as innovation will solve all our problems tomorrow.

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The EU has the power to switch on innovation

This post first appeared on Business Green.

Think of innovation and what comes to mind? Blue skies, blank sheets of paper, keeping your thoughts showering and definitely outside of any boxes? These might be helpful for great leaps forward, but most technological development occurs through a series of small shuffles: a one per cent efficiency gain here, a five per cent weight reduction there. This is the kind of optimisation that delivers a competitive advantage rather than creates a whole new market, and a long term study by McKinsey has shown that focusing on a few key objectives is a vital part of successfully innovating to deliver incremental improvements. Read more

Will the EU’s new circular economy plans live up to expectation?

illustration europeA version of this post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

After months of speculation, we will soon have clarity on a debate that’s been rumbling on for months. No, I’m not talking about who’s going to run the country, but what the European Commission means by a “more ambitious” circular economy package.  This is the set of policy and regulatory measures proposed by the Commission to minimise waste and make the most of the economic opportunities from repair and recycling across Europe. Read more

Low resource prices are no reason to go slow on better productivity

Abfüllung von GetränkedosenA version of this post first appeared on BusinessGreen.

Resource prices have been in the news again of late, although this time for the refreshing reason  that they’ve been tumbling instead of skyrocketing. Falls in food and transport prices have led to the lowest inflation rate since records began and underpinned the first steady rise in real wages in five years. Read more

Scotland could use the oil price crash to kick-start CCS

Offshore oil platform, North ScotlandThis post first appeared on Guardian Sustainable Business.

Such was the shock of the oil price’s precipitous decline in recent months that tongues were set swiftly wagging about what the explanation could be. Killing off electric vehicles, US shale producers, or Iran’s and Russia’s economies, were all put forward as the real reason behind OPEC’s public explanation that keeping the taps open and so depressing prices is about protecting market share. Read more

How resource efficiency can also reduce unemployment

Businessman and worker talking next to conveyor belt in recycling plantPretty much everyone who is in favour of a new industry or development will claim that it creates jobs. Yesterday I typed “create thousands of jobs” into Google and got over 227,000 results back for this exact phrase. Everyone from broadband suppliers to airport operators, public authorities to large internet retailers are playing the jobs card. And, if you want to prevent something happening, saying it “threatens jobs” is also a popular tactic, according to another Google search. Read more

A review of new EU and UK ambitions for a circular economy

12_CETFA version of this post was first published on BusinessGreen.

It’s only years after its 1970s inception that the circular economy concept is really beginning to gain traction. The publication this summer of a clutch of policy proposals and recommendations from governments, business organisations and NGOs alike show that the idea is really gaining momentum.

But the catch-all title ‘circular economy’ belies a diverse set of complementary but distinct processes and activities. Some of these, such as improved recycling, could be achieved through tweaks to current regulatory and financial systems. Others, such as the more ambitious and valuable ‘inner loops’ of a circular economy – reuse, remanufacturing and servitisation – require more fundamental changes in the frameworks that shape business strategies and investments. Read more

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