UK supply chains risk resource scarcity unless they invest
The UK must invest in resource management and sustainable procurement if it is to avoid resource scarcity, according to an industry expert.
Speaking at the LRS Consultancy network meeting in London last week (September 29), Randles - who works for LRS - said that supply chains in the UK were "enormous and global", but warned that more research needed to be undertaken into how long resources were going to last.
He said: "We have a real issue when you think of the size of the global market for these things," and warned that resource scarcity could become a serious concern if action isn't taken to improve reuse, recycling and remanufacturing processes.
He added that alternative strategies for sourcing, substituting and minimising wastage were required, and outlined how consumer demand has started to exceed supply, diminishing the world's supplies of minerals and metals. He called for more efficient technology, products and services to be developed to address this.
"What we need to start thinking about more is the social, environmental and economic impacts of the resource extraction itself. And not just the beginning on the lifecycle, but the whole cycle of the material," he said.
Randles' speech also touched on the issue of global water scarcity, which he noted could become a source of conflict in the future as water is "hugely significant" in industrial processes.
In conclusion, Randles called on the Government to redefine environmental legislation, which he described as having a key role to play to 'pull' the rest of the market place up to standard. A landfill ban should be imposed certain materials, while public and business awareness also needs to be raised through sustainable procurement opportunities.
He said: "Sustainable procurement is as important as finding large business buyers, which are starting to demand more sustainable business standards.
"Resource efficiency is becoming standard practice amongst some of the leading businesses because it reduces risk and makes economic sense from both a supply chain and sales perspective."