Nearly half (48.5%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe have not heard of the term "the circular economy", reveals survey
A further 25% of small businesses are not sure of what "the circular economy" means, according to a survey of SMEs in Belgium, France and the UK by the EU’s Fusion Observatory.
The poll finds that just 9% of the 231 companies surveyed claim to understand the term and consider it in their business.
A large proportion of the participating SMEs, including 60.5% in the UK, report that they recycle materials and repair equipment where possible, but few are looking to design out waste, and even fewer have examined their whole business process flow to reduce waste.
Almost a quarter (23%) of firms say that quantifying the economic benefits would make the circular economy more relevant to their business.
Respondents were also asked to identify the material streams that offer the potential for the greatest gains in a circular economy model. Packaging waste is singled out as the material stream best suited to a circular economy approach, though only 14% of respondents put packaging in their top three.
The research comes as Green Alliance report that banning five key waste materials from landfill and ensuring they are recycled, remanufactured or reused could support 47,500 skilled jobs in the UK and save £3.8 billion of valuable materials from being lost to the economy.
It also reveals that placing a blanket ban on landfilling wood, plastic, textiles, food and electronics would reduce the annual amount of waste being landfilled by 19 million tonnes and save 14.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.
Meanwhile, the environmental audit committee has launched an inquiry into growing a circular economy. MPs will examine:
- the potential economic value of resources contained in waste;
- the environmental benefits of the circular economy – including, design to reduce, reuse, repair/remanufacture and recycle;
- the potential benefits of alternative business models, such as leasing; and
- barriers to circular business models.
Also, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management has commissioned research on the waste sector can be best supported in delivering the circular economy. The findings will be unveiled in October 2014.