Category Archives: Circular economy

Banks are waking up to the advantages of a circular economy

the bankGreen Alliance was among the first organisations to recognise the potential of the financial sector to drive sustainability.   In 1992, alongside the Rio environment summit, UNEP brokered a Statement by Banks on Environment and Sustainable Development, and Green Alliance encouraged UK institutions to get involved.

Four years later, Green Alliance assessed progress against the pledges: it was discernible, but slow.  Twenty-odd years on, we see the seeds sown at Rio yielding results, as financial institutions start to act on the risks and opportunities presented by environmental challenges. Read more

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

What does the spectacular rise of the sharing economy mean for the environment?

Over the past five years there’s been a lot of hype about the sharing economy. Hundreds of start-ups are popping up (many of which epically fail) providing opportunities to share everything from sofas to secrets. There’s still much debate about what the sharing economy actually is, and how it overlaps with similar concepts like collaborative consumption and the peer to peer economy. Read more

Top 10: circular economy resources

Abstract circular backgroundA representative of a leading US company recently told me that it was seeking a bigger presence in the UK because of our “thought leadership” on the circular economy.

That is in large part due to more than fifteen years of work by WRAP and Green Alliance, two organisations I have the privilege to work with, along with the Royal Society of Arts, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a host of progressive business organisations.

But how to access the wealth of excellent material available on the subject? For key entry points, here are my top ten suggestions to help you get to grips with the circular economy: 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

Building a circular economy, one smartphone at a time

smartphone - highways EnglandSmartphones, tablets and laptops are ubiquitous in the wealthy world, and the makers of these devices have their eyes set on selling to the next five billion consumers in emerging markets. And why not? Access to the internet is a good thing, and digital technologies can enable better resource productivity, smarter conservation, and lower waste. The fact that smart devices have been selling like hotcakes for the past decade might lead business executives to think more growth is practically inevitable. 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

Lessons from Easter Island about why we need a circular economy

Osterinsel Moai StatueThis post is by Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP. It first appeared on Guardian Sustainable Business.

We hear a lot about how we are running out of resources but, for many people, it is hard to visualise. Sometimes I’m asked: “Could it really happen?” The simple answer is yes, it could. And a lot sooner than we might think if change isn’t initiated soon. In fact, we have examples of where it has already happened. Read more

What’s the role of the environment in business success?

BuchenwaldThis post first appeared on the CBI’s The Great Business Debate.

The environment has been the bank that keeps on giving for business:  it is the source of materials, and the sink for waste products. The sheer size of our oceans and continents and the absorption capacity of the atmosphere has meant that this free business support service has been central to many companies’ success. Read more

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