Firms join forces to lead on resource security

6th July 2012


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IEMA

High street retailer Boots and chemicals manufacturer BASF have signed up to work with Defra on a new industry taskforce promoting resource efficiency

Led by environment think tank Green Alliance, the circular economy taskforce includes members from both the private and public sector, including WRAP and Veolia, who will work with government representatives and industry bodies to research and promote a closed-loop approach to managing resources.

First outlined in the government’s resource security action plan, the taskforce aims to help UK businesses meet the challenges of the increasing cost of materials and resource security.

“Rising material prices are a real risk to the economy, but also an opportunity for innovation,” commented Lord Taylor, undersecretary of state at Defra, which will be working with the taskforce.

“Forward-thinking businesses are responding with innovative, circular business models. The circular economy taskforce will show how these business models can be taken up more widely.”

Julie Hill, chair of the new taskforce and an associate at Green Alliance, warned: “Eighty per cent of our economy isn’t circular – it relies on a supply of cheap commodities and loses valuable materials in landfill. But cheap commodities are a thing of the past.

“Credit Suisse suggested in April that commodity prices could rise by 20% in the second half of 2012. The risk is that without change, resource costs will constrain economic activity. We’re missing out on the economic opportunity that better material recovery offers.”

According to Hill, the UK consumes five million tonnes of plastic each year, only half of which is manufactured here. In total just 25% of the plastic used is recovered, and of that quarter, only a third is reprocessed.

The circular economy taskforce will focus on developing practical ways to recover and reuse materials and divert waste from landfill. It also aims to identify the barriers preventing more sustainable business practices, and test how changes to government policy can help to overcome these.

The CBI, EEF and the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network, have also pledged to work with the taskforce.

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