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.
This 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.
Last month we launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.
In the lead up to the London mayoral election, we are publishing blogs from candidates which will lay out their plans for a Greener London.
Today we hear from Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith MP.
A 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.
This post first appeared on BusinessGreen.
There’s an old joke about generating electricity from nuclear fusion: that it’s always just 50 years away, no matter when you’re starting from. Perhaps unfairly, I have the same feeling about industrial symbiosis, the idea that the unwanted by-products of one manufacturing process become the valued inputs for another. Despite the concept being decades old, it’s still much more likely to feature in academic reports than on boardroom agendas or factory floors. Hopefully that’s about to change, as promoting industrial symbiosis is a priority for Germany’s leadership of the G7 this year. But, if the G7 initiative is to prove more successful at embedding the theory in business thinking, it’s worth considering where industrial symbiosis has and hasn’t worked before.
Our latest infographic below shows the benefits to the UK economy of keeping resources out of landfill.
[click on the image to expand]
This post is by Jonny Hazell, policy assistant on our Resource Stewardship theme.
When it comes to the ways in which stuff is made, consumed, and disposed of, there’s a lot the UK could learn from Japan.
Japanese recycling rates are extraordinary: 98 per cent for metals for example and, in 2007, just five per cent of Japan’s waste ended up in a hole in the ground, compared with 48 per cent for the UK in 2008. Japan’s appliance recycling laws ensure the great majority of electrical and electronic products are recycled, compared with 30-40 per cent here. Of these appliances, 74-89 per cent of the materials they contain are recovered. Perhaps more significantly, many of these materials go back into the manufacture of the same type of products from which they were reclaimed . This is the ‘closed-loop’ holy grail of recycling essential for a truly circular economy.
So how has Japan managed it and can we do it too? Read more
This post is based on our new report Towering ambitions, which is launched today.
There are around 390,000 flats in high rise blocks in England, and they weren’t designed for low carbon living. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be transformed into sustainable beacons in our towns and cities.
Tower blocks have huge potential to be resource efficient and better connected, supporting stronger and more cohesive communities. There’s scope for shared low carbon heating systems, solar panels to power communal electricity needs, high quality recycling and food waste collections, increased water efficiency, well-loved green spaces, and safe, well-designed surrounding paths and streets to encourage cycling and walking. And tower block residents can feel a unique and strong sense of community, with the potential to support, engage with, and even run new green initiatives. Read more
Do people really wash at 30C? What makes someone decide whether to recycle or not? Last year we hired ethnographic video researchers everyday lives to make a series of short films about how people use energy and water in their homes, and how they manage their waste. (Scroll to the end of this post to watch the first film!) Read more