London could cut waste by 60% through circular model

21st September 2017

The UK’s capital city could reduce its waste by 60% if it adopts circular economy principles, according to a report released today by the London Assembly Environment Committee.

This model involves reusing goods and resources as often as possible in order to extract the maximum amount of value and minimise unusable materials in need of disposal.

The report states that applying this concept could also provide £7bn to London’s economy, create 12,000 new jobs by 2030, and speed up the city’s ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

“Waste is a necessary part of modern day living, but by relying on recycling or incineration, we miss out on the opportunity to utilise waste as a resource,” the report says.

“Businesses are ready to capitalise on the opportunity – capturing the value of waste and making money from it, while providing the goods that people need.”

Although in the early stages, circular economy projects are growing in terms of size, customer numbers, and environmental impact, according to the report.

However, it also highlights a recent survey showing that 50% of SMEs haven’t heard of the circular economy, and that half of waste management companies don’t even understand the term.

In addition, it reveals that recycling rates have dropped back down to the levels seen in 2010, and that London’s current waste management model is unsustainable.

If trends continue, it argues that authorities will have to collect an extra one million tonnes of waste each year by 2047 – equal to an additional 500,000 refuse trucks of rubbish.

“The way we deal with waste in London needs to change. Recycling rates have fallen, the population continues to grow, and landfill space is quickly running out,” Environment Committee chair, Leonie Cooper, said.

The report acknowledges that the transition to a circular economy will be difficult, saying that participation will need to be straightforward, convenient and cost-effective – preferably linking to existing local systems.

“The mayor needs to take a visible lead in pushing the circular economy forward,” Cooper continued. “This should start with ensuring that organisations in the GLA Group procure goods and services in line with its principles.

“He should set a whole-city vision, which includes specific milestones towards growing the circular economy, while awareness also needs to be vastly improved among London’s businesses.”


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