Price volatility, supply shortages, disruption of supply chains and reputational risks are turning the need for sustainable resource management into a business critical issue.

With today’s launch of a practical guide to help businesses shift from a linear model of using and disposing of materials towards a circular economy approach, IEMA says that the most progressive businesses are shifting their management of resources to one which generates efficiencies, stimulates savings and provides opportunities for green growth.

Resource efficiency can be achieved by all organisations, from SMEs to very large businesses. IEMA’s research shows that skilled Environment & Sustainability professionals are vital to delivering these benefits for business. SMEs employing skilled Environment & Sustainability professionals are already saving over £5,000 a year and the largest companies can save over £1m per year,” said Josh Fothergill, Policy Lead, at IEMA ahead of his speech - From Waste to Resources - Efficiency, Security and Cycling Take Centre Stage - at the Energy & Environment Expo, currently being held at the Excel in London.

The business case for sustainable resource management is building with a growing body of evidence indicating that the circular economy - where materials are returned to productive use after their primary use has ended - has the potential to generate trillion dollar savings. Defra research has further identified that over 80% of £23bn of 'quick win' resource efficiency savings available to UK business, result from smarter raw material use and waste minimisation actions with a payback period of less than a year.

Some businesses are already leading the way and benefitting from changing their approach. However to help all businesses understand how circular economy attitudes to resources can work for them IEMA has today launched two guides for business. Practitioners can now access a package that will practically catalyse a step-change towards sustainable resource management. The detailed Practitioner guide - From Waste to Resources – will provide guidance and evidence for IEMA Members to turn their waste costs into sustainable resource management-led revenue opportunities. An accompanying Business Briefing, entitled Sustainable Resource Management, sets out the organisational benefits for non-specialists and decision-makers.

IEMA has also developed a Resource Action Maturity Planner (RAMP) which allows all businesses - large and small - to assess what they need to do to achieve success through effective resource management. The package provides a range of case studies and practical tips on how to turn waste costs into resource management opportunities that create efficiencies, enable costs savings and generate increased income across businesses.

69% of IEMA members surveyed said that their organisation had already identified key materials in their supply chain that are vulnerable to prices spikes or supply constraints. Businesses that move from waste management to a “cradle-to-cradle” resource management approach can better prepare for these business critical challenges and deliver clear cost savings.

This approach enables organisations to reduce their resource purchase costs and their waste management spend. Other additional benefits include improved resilience to price volatility in the sourcing of resources, protection against supply shortages for example in oil and steel to rare earth minerals.

“A ‘circular economy’ requires all organisations, large and small, to engage in the transition from waste management to resource management. The actions taken by business as a result of following IEMA’s practical advice and tools will enable businesses to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. Environment & Sustainability professionals have a key role to play in delivering this new approach for business by acting as the vital conduit within business to drive change, work with procurement departments and mainstream the skills and awareness necessary to drive forward these significant resource management costs savings,” said Josh Fothergill, Policy Lead, IEMA.