The Circularity Gap Report 2023 for the UK shows that from all the materials that flow through the UK’s economy, just 7.5% are used again, leaving a circularity gap of 92.5%.
This means we are throwing away most of our valuable resources while continuing to extract and use more virgin materials; demonstrating how unsustainable our production and consumption patterns are.
The linear economy, also known as the ‘take-make-use-dispose model’, has contributed to the climate and biodiversity crises. It has also created significant resource shortages, risks and negative impacts to businesses, people and the planet.
Circular economy business models keep products and materials in use in a high value state, by design, for as long as possible to get the maximum value from them. Circular business models have the potential to be a key driving force towards a more resource-efficient economy, reducing the environmental pressures we face.
Transitioning to circularity can seem overwhelming and there is a common misconception that traditional business models need to be torn up. However, businesses and organisations can start on the path to circularity anywhere in their operations.
The IEMA Circular Economy Network Steering Group has been developing new guidance on circular business models to help IEMA members begin and further their journey into circularity, and build a case for change.
By demonstrating the negative losses of common linear economic strategies, we can show the value gained by positive impacts of applying a circular strategy. For example, extending the life of products by designing for durability, repairability and upgradability counteracts obsolescence.
However, making changes to ‘business as usual’ can be met with objections. The latter part of the guidance will explore some common objections and how to counter them with information, case studies and data to help build an evidence base highlighting the positive impacts to organisations, people and the planet of adopting circular approaches.
The Circular Economy Network Steering Group held a workshop with IEMA members in April to capture thoughts and ideas on the shape of this new guidance, which is due to be published this summer.
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