London's circular economy could provide 40,000 job boost

An improved circular economy model in London could create 40,000 new jobs by 2030 as well as lowering unemployment and providing financial incentives, a new report released today (9 December) has found.

Transitioning it to a more efficient circular economy model could reduce unemployment levels in London by 12.5%

Transitioning it to a more efficient circular economy model could reduce unemployment levels in London by 12.5%

The Employment and Circular Economy report produced by WRAP for the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC), London Waste Recycling Board (LWARB) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), urges the government to implement strategies that allow the capital to move away from the ‘make, use and dispose’ linear economy towards a more sustainable approach.

Lord Barker of Battle, chair of the LSDC, said: “This report is a wake-up call to set a course to a smarter future, one that is better for the environment, the people of London and the wider economy.

“There are many, many more opportunities for businesses in the capital to take advantage of the circular economy, but business and government need to come together and take action to stimulate and accelerate.

“If we act now, London can be a global leader in the technologies and systems required to be at the forefront of this revolution – a revolution that will unite business interests with the city’s wider development needs and ensure we remain globally competitive.”

Future incentives

The report highlights that while a circular economy in London is already thriving – with 46,700 employed in the sector – transitioning it to a more efficient model could reduce unemployment levels by 12.5%.

It highlights three potential outcomes that will be affected by how much movement there is on the circular economy front. If no new initiatives are introduced around 1,100m extra jobs will be produced.

At its current pace of innovation the circular economy in London would create an extra 16,000 jobs by 2030. An extensive transformation of the circular economy could generate an extra 40,000 jobs in the capital.

Boris on board

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has requested a more in-depth explanation of the job creation aspect and has asked the GLA to review its policies in order to promote circular economy growth.

The London Assembly Environment Committee announced that tomorrow it will investigate how London could adopt a circular econonomy as a means to lessen the impact of the capital's population growth.

Initial job focus will be on the built environment, electricals, textiles, food and plastics. These areas have been chosen because of their high environmental impact, their retained financial value and potential for re-use.

LWARB predicts that moving to a circular economy would bring noteworthy financial benefits to London.

Wayne Hubbard, chief operating officer of LWARB said: “We estimate that, in addition to creating thousands of new jobs for Londoners, a circular economy in London could be worth at least £7 billion every year by 2036 in the built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics sectors alone.”

Circular economy package

The news comes one week after the European Commission launched its updated Circular Economy Package. The headline figure from the package was a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030; a significant downgrade from the binding 70% target proposed in the scrapped 2014 package.

In reaction to the package Richard Kirkman, technical director, Veolia UK and Ireland said: "These new targets from the EU are a big step to delivering a circular economy. Research by Imperial College London has found that there could be a £29bn boost to UK GDP, plus 175,000 jobs if we move to an economy where goods have a second, third and fourth life.”

WRAP has claimed that a European transition to the circular economy could create three million extra jobs by 2030.

London Circular Economy Jobs Report 2015

Matt Mace


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