Waste advisor Wrap is to refocus its efforts in an attempt to bring about a revolution in resource use, according to a new strategy launched today.
The charity said its work for the next five years will encourage businesses, consumers and governments to challenge the usual approach to consumption, in particular on food and drink, clothing and textiles, and electricals and electronics.
Wrap has selected these areas, as it believes this is where it can have the greatest impact. Together, they account for 25% of the UK's carbon footprint, 80% of its water footprint and 40% of household waste, it said.
It wants the three "r's" traditionally associated with waste management, "reduce, reuse and recycle", to be replaced by:
- Re-inventing design, production and sale of products.
- Re-thinking how use and consumption of products.
- Re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.
Liz Goodwin, the charity's chief executive, said: "Wrap will continue to operate in the way it always has - starting with the evidence and then working in collaboration between business, governments and consumers to help facilitate and catalyse the change we require to bring about the resource revolution."
Meanwhile, new research has found that reducing resource use has the potential to add £2.9 billion a year to UK GDP. The study, which was commissioned by Veolia by Imperial College London, highlights the economic benefits from following circular economy approaches.
Reprocessing and recycling materials from households, and commercial and industrial sources could be worth £23.7 billion; moving from a products-based to a service-based economy could be worth £3.1 billion; and business savings on landfill tax could be worth £2.3 billion, the research found.
According to the research, around 175,000 jobs will be created by the circular economy, with growth forecast to be strong in the recycling of plastics.
The report's author, Dr Nick Voulvoulis, from the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, said: "The report goes beyond resource and energy efficiency; it also includes closing the loop between resource extraction, production, and disposal, moving towards the provisions of services, where materials are valued differently; creating a more robust economy in the process."