Category Archives: Circular economy

Let’s not be losers when it comes to resources

Backstreet BritainThis article was originally published on Business Green.

It’s been more than six months since the prime minister triggered Article 50, what’s commonly referred to as “the starting gun” for our departure from the EU. If you imagine Brexit as a race, then, that means that we’re over a quarter of the way through the process that will, in theory, conclude on 30 March 2019 at the latest. At that time, EU treaties – all 750+ of them – and the various laws and regulations that have accumulated over the past 40 odd years – including more than 1,100 pieces of environmental law – will cease to apply here.

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Why a circular economy is good for jobs and growth

equipment for Metalworking production blurred imageThis post is by Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP, a longstanding member of Green Alliance’s Circular Economy Task Force, which works with leading businesses to develop practical ways to make the circular economy happen.

I often find myself explaining to people what the circular economy is not. People commonly think that it’s another way of talking about recycling, that it’s the latest passing corporate fad, or that it’s only relevant to the waste and resources sector. None of these things are true.

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How plastic bags helped us grasp the bigger picture

7791437584_617626e707_kThis post is by Dr Colin Church, CEO of CIWM, the leading institution for resources and waste management, and the chair of the Circular Economy Task Force.

In the resource management sector, when a group of ‘strategic colleagues’ meets up, one of the conversations I’ve often heard around the table is a lament as to why politicians and the media are so focused on carrier bags, or plastic bottles, or coffee cups, or any other single product or waste stream in the news that day. They argue that this is deflecting attention from the holistic and more important bigger picture around resource productivity and the circular economy. Given that several of these specific issues featured in Michael Gove’s first keynote speech on the environment recently, I imagine this conversation is live once more. Read more

Three simple ways European product design can help eliminate poverty abroad

5241715320_e3246875fb_bThis post is by Richard Gower, senior associate for economics and policy at Tearfund. This post first appeared on Tearfund’s policy blog.

In poor nations, millions of people already make their living from ‘circular’ trades such as repair and recycling. The way we design our products in the EU – the toxic chemicals we permit and the ease of repair that we require – has a strong influence over their livelihoods. But these impacts are not currently considered as part of the process for setting design standards.

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Why hasn’t the sharing revolution taken off?

2016 Library of Things Launch-22This post is by Libby Peake, senior policy adviser on resources at Green Alliance.

Perhaps the favourite statistic of those advocating for more sharing in our economy is that the average power drill is used for only 12 or 13 minutes over the entire course of its lifetime. This is especially significant as millions of new household power drills are sold in the UK each year, and then simply gather dust in sheds up and down the country. To people thinking about better use of resources, it seems like there’s an obvious problem here, as well as an obvious solution: a nation stockpiling power tools that are hardly ever used ought to share them more. Read more

Cleaning up the oceans is not a solution to the plastic problem

Polluted watersThis blog was first posted on EurActiv.

Plastics have brought huge benefits to our society. But with those benefits come environmental problems. Too often, plastic ends up as waste, as marine litter polluting the oceans, or as litter on our beaches.

Lightweight, durable, and low cost plastics have transformed the products we make and consume, becoming ubiquitous through their convenience and adaptability.

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First year verdict: how much progress has the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan made?

Green plastic bottles on the conveyor belt at the plantIt is now just over a year since the European Commission published its Circular Economy Action Plan, with the bold aim of abandoning the old make-use-dispose economy in favour of ‘closing the loop’ and keeping resources in circulation.  To mark this milestone, the Commission has just published its first annual report, reviewing its progress in implementing the plan.

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Why we should care more about the environmental impact of nutrients

crop-spraying_chafer-machinery_flickrBack in 2007, Green Alliance examined the challenges and opportunities for the more sustainable use of nutrients, chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus, in the UK. It recommended a suite of policy principles to make a more circular system a reality.

Little has happened since in the UK. But last month I was asked to present Green Alliance’s policy principles to a conference of Nordic countries in Malmo, and to discuss how to take the agenda forward. I discovered that the ideas remain relevant and useful.  Read more

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