This post is by Libby Peake, head of resources and Tom Booker, policy assistant at Green Alliance.
In 2012, the year we launched our Circular Economy Task Force (CETF), our annual review noted: “Circular economy thinking has begun to influence economic policy in Germany, China and Japan. It is beginning to gain traction in the UK, but we still have a long way to go.”
As someone who’s spent more than a decade commenting on the UK’s approach to resources and waste, I’ve often felt at least a bit of frustration and occasionally even substantial dismay with it. Read more
Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Red Dragon, Liberty Shield, National Sword and Green Quest. They all sound like the names given to military interventions of recent years. And, in fact, they all are, apart from one, which is a Chinese government programme aiming to improve the quality of recycling. And, no, it’s not Green Quest (a short lived American operation investigating terrorist financing sources). Rather, the programme seeking to prevent imports of poor quality recyclates is National Sword, a surprisingly aggressive title for such an environmentally beneficial endeavour.
This 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.
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.
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.
This post was first published on The Huffington Post.
Britain faces many economic challenges: the need to restore macroeconomic stability, improve competitiveness, protect living standards and address rising inequality. These challenges have spurred much creative thinking by economists in areas such as monetary policy, taxation, labour market reform and education and training. Yet far less prominence has been given to an issue that affects all of these economic challenges: the impact of rising resource prices. Read more
This post is by US journalist Jim Witkin, based on an interview with William McDonough, co-author of a seminal book on the circular economy, Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. Green Alliance hosted its UK launch in 2009. Here, McDonough talks about his new book. This article was originally posted on Guardian Sustainable Business.
Designer, adviser and author William McDonough wants us to think differently about how we design our products, buildings and urban environments.
McDonough, who often sports a bow tie, has the look of a professor. He speaks softly even as he discusses some very weighty topics. “Design is the first signal of human intention,” he told me in a recent interview, “and if our intention is to destroy the planet, we’re doing a great job.” Read more
Last week, I attended ‘Redesigning the future‘, an RSA Great Recovery debate on the role of design in a circular economy.
Redesign certainly makes circular systems cheaper and more effective. In the case of end-of-life vehicles, design for recycling will help to turn previously unrecycled plastic, glass, and electronics from old cars into nearly £40 million of recovered resources in the UK by 2015. Read more
Our economy has been built on a wasteful pattern: we make short-lived products out of valuable raw materials we dig out of the ground, and then stick them (and the resources that made them) back in the ground as landfill. This no longer makes sense.
The economics are clear. Even broken products contain materials which should be worth enough to keep them out of landfill. Because these products have been difficult to collect and recycle, we continue to lose the resources they’re made of. It turns out that getting materials out of landfill is surprisingly hard. Market signals haven’t been enough on their own. Read more