More and more, circular economic models are providing ways for governments and businesses to increase efficiency, reduce waste and create new jobs. Two new initiatives in the UK reinforce that adopting circular principles presents significant economic opportunities for businesses.
The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has approved a new £50 million business plan for the period of 2017–2020 to help reinvigorate London’s recycling efforts and accelerate the development of the circular economy in the capital.
The plan, developed under the guidance of Dr. Liz Goodwin, Chair of LWARB, highlights three programs — Advance London, Circular London and Resource London — with a total program budget, including external project and partner contributions, of around £50 million over three years. The programs seek to meet the challenges set out by the Mayor of London that will put the city on track to be zero-carbon by 2050. Challenges include:
- Achieving a 65 percent recycling rate by 2030 for the waste from London’s residents and businesses; and
- To realize the economic value reuse, repair, remanufacturing and materials innovation can bring to London, creating jobs and making the transition to a circular economy.
Advance London, a support program for business aimed at helping SMEs adopt and scale circular business models, is the first program to launch. It was revealed following the release of a research exposing that only four out of the 32 London boroughs are above the national domestic recycling rate of 44.9 percent.
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“I am determined that LWARB will continue to make a significant contribution to help London be a global leader in sustainable resource management. This business plan describes the way in which LWARB will support delivery against some challenging objectives through its pioneering programs of work,” said Goodwin.
“We know that the plan and LWARB will need to be flexible and adapt as the Mayor’s policies develop, but the need for action is such that we have decided to publish this plan now.”
To achieve the plan’s 65 percent recycling ambitions, a “Flats Taskforce” will be introduced to improve recycling performance of Londoners living in blocks of flats through bespoke interventions aimed at increasing access to and raising awareness of services provided to flats across the capital. LWARB will contribute £1 million to the taskforce and will be looking for partners to contribute additional income before the program starts this summer.
The plan also includes a £3 million Circular Economy Accelerator program, a £14 million circular economy venture capital fund and a £1.5 million investment into a larger circular economy business development capital fund.
“This dynamic business plan will help accelerate local recycling rates, boost green businesses and cut waste across London,” said Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy. “We need to make reducing waste easier and I’m really pleased LWARB will be investigating new ways to help the thousands of Londoners living in flats gain better access to recycling facilities. It is really important to support he rapid growth of the ‘reuse and regenerate’ circular economy and help new businesses succeed in this exciting sector.”
London isn’t the only one ramping up circular economy efforts. A new £6.5 million fund for SMEs could be the push Wales needs to make circular practices mainstream.
Created by the Welsh Government with a 2019 launch date, the Circular Economy Capital Investment Fund will help SMEs make the transition towards a circular economy with assistance in the area of recycling for the hospitality, tourism and food services industries, as well as reuse of recycled content for the country’s manufacturing sector.
“The £6.5 million fund underlines our commitment to moving towards a circular economy,” said Wales Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths. “This will help businesses save money by becoming more resource efficient and resilient, an approach that will deliver numerous environmental benefits including less waste and reduced CO2 emissions.”
Wales is currently the leader in recycling in the UK with a recycling rate of 60 percent. The fund is expected to help Wales reach 70 percent recycling by 2025 and 100 percent recycling by 2050, as outlined in the Welsh Government’s waste strategy, Towards Zero Waste. Beyond helping the country reduce waste, the shift towards a more circular economy has the potential to create 30,000 jobs and generate up to £2 billion for the Welsh economy.
“We are proud that if Wales were an EU Member State, we would be fourth in terms of the amount we recycle,” Griffiths added. “We will continue to advocate the widespread adoption of a circular economy among businesses and our European partners as we aim towards the ambitious targets we have set ourselves in Towards Zero Waste.”
Similar initiatives have taken place elsewhere in the UK, including Scotland, where the Scottish Government launched a funding scheme worth £18 million to support the nation’s SMEs.