$700bn boost from reuse

8th February 2013


Reuse

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IEMA

Adopting a circular economic model that preserves or enhances the biological and technical "nutrients" in materials could save the global consumer goods sector $700 billion each year, according to a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)

It finds that increasing rates of reuse and recycling in the textiles sector could save more than $70 billion and that switching to re-usable glass bottles could reduce drinks manufacturers’ packaging costs by 20% per 100 litres of beer.

EMF acknowledges that reusable bottles will have to be made more durable. This will involve using 34% more glass, but additional costs will be dwarfed by the savings made from reusing the bottles up to 30 times, a rate that is already achieved in Germany.

It also claims that the cost in the UK of collecting one tonne of textiles is far outweighed by the profit from reusing it.

UK local authorities could also benefit, says EMF. It estimates that councils could receive $1.5 billion in additional income each year by collecting household food waste separately and processing it in line with circular principles to generate biogas and return nutrients to agricultural soils.

The study comes as Unilever announced that it is bringing forward its zero-waste target from 2020 to 2015. The revised deadline has been set because 130 of its 252 plants worldwide already divert all non-hazardous waste from landfill.

Unilever says cutting factory waste and increasing recycling and recovery of materials is saving the company €70 million a year.


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