More than 13,000 jobs could be created if Northern Ireland moved to a circular economy, according to a new report launched today in Belfast.
Produced by the ReNEW (Resource innovation Network for European Waste) network, in conjunction with non-profit Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Job Creation in the Circular Economy — Increasing Resource Efficiency in Northern Ireland reveals that jobs could be created at various skill levels across Northern Ireland and within a number of sectors, including food and drink, biorefining and the bioeconomy. The role of renewable energy and smart energy grids in enabling development of manufacturing is also a key factor for achieving greater traction in realizing job growth potential.
Funded by the European Regional Development, the £5 million ReNEW project (Resource innovation Network for European Waste), brings together researchers, public authorities and businesses in North West Europe to explore new ways to extract valuable resources — such as metal, nutrients and chemicals — from households and industrial waste. The report aims to encourage wider understanding of the potential of the circular economy for jobs growth, stimulating action to create the means by which the CE can fully support the economic aims for Northern Ireland.
“Building a circular economy is a win-win for the economy and the environment,” said Environment Minister Mark H Durkan. “It makes sense to keep our natural resources in use for as long as possible through recovery, reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. This can also drive economic growth by unlocking millions of pounds’ worth of value from materials used in key sectors in Northern Ireland. By departing from our traditional economic model of ‘make, use and dispose,’ we will be less vulnerable to dwindling natural resources, and increased price instability and energy costs.
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“We must work together, across government, and in partnership with business and the community, to ensure that the North is geared up to exploit the exciting opportunities afforded by a circular economy," Durkan added.
The report echoes findings from an earlier study released by WRAP and Green Alliance in January — which found that the continued development of resource-efficient business activity, such as recycling, reuse and remanufacturing, could create demand for over 200,000 new jobs across Britain between now and 2030 — and projections from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation contending that over US$1 trillion a year could be generated for the global economy by 2025 and 100,000 new jobs created within the next five years if companies focused on building circular supply chains.