This post is by Thomas Fischer, head of the Circular Economy Programme at Environmental Action Germany (DUH)
This week we celebrated a rather tragic landmark: the point when we used up all the resources that our planet can regenerate in one year. The fact that Earth Overshoot Day happened in early August points to the gravity of resource overconsumption, but the costs are already visible in ocean acidification, water pollution, destruction of forests and nearly every other environmental problem. Fortunately, there is a solution: a resource efficient circular economy. Germany has pursued a circular economy agenda for the past decade in industry, but retailers haven’t been keeping up.
Green 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
A 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
A 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
Smartphones, 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
This 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
This 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
This 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
A version of this post was first published on BusinessGreen.
With memories of the world cup fading fast, something that has stayed with me are the many scenes of jubilant fans, perhaps because these reminded me of happy times spent in Brazil during its famous carnival celebrations. But it also brought back less happy memories of street children weaving their way through the partying crowds scooping up the beer cans that fuelled the revelry. Read more
Our new report, Wasted opportunities, marks the end of the second year for the Circular Economy Task Force of leading businesses. It reveals that outdated recycling systems are losing the UK economy £1.7 billion in wasted plastics, electronics and food.
The report comes at a time of transition for the circular economy. Our work over the past year has uncovered positive signals. Alongside task force members, we’ve talked to businesses ever keener to take up the idea and make the circular economy part of their values and their business model. With them are policy makers in Brussels, Edinburgh and Cardiff, talking of ambitious targets and policy support. In Westminster, enlightened politicians from all parties are beginning to explore the concept and seeking to incorporate the ambition to be more circular into their manifestos. Read more