Circular economy could save EU business £330bn

Wide-scale adoption of a resource efficient circular economy could help the EU private sector save £330bn and avoid 500 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to WRAP.

Outlining the benefits of resource efficiency, WRAP has today highlighted how the European economy could be transformed by 2020 if the concepts of the circular economy are put into action.

WRAP’s EU 2020 vision shows that direct material inputs for the EU-27 could decline by 2.8% between 2010 and 2020 resulting in a material saving of 188Mt by 2020.

The not-for-profit organisation says that assuming a raw material cost of £1750 per tonne, potential savings to business would equate to around £330bn by 2020.

In addition to economic growth, a resource efficient circular economy could also improve the trade balance by £90bn, cut extracted raw materials and imported goods used by 190 million tonnes, cut waste by 220 million tonnes and recycle 350 million tonnes more materials.

Speaking to UK and European business leaders at WRAP’s Annual Conference in London today, CEO Dr Liz Goodwin called on businesses to collaborate to achieve these benefits.

She said: “Understanding the potential for the circular economy is one thing, achieving it is something far more complex and challenging. Our challenge and opportunity today is to go one step further, and understand how we can turn ideas behind the circular economy into positive action.”

Goodwin highlighted food as one of the most wasted resources and called for “concerted action” to halve UK household food waste by 2025.

Looking at WRAP’s Household Food & Drink Waste 2012 data launched earlier today, Goodwin said reducing food waste could be achieved by wider adoption of initiatives already underway, for example the recent roll-out of a Love Food Hate Waste behaviour change campaign across West London Boroughs which saved councils £8 for each £1 invested.

“Working together in a concerted effort, rolling out initiatives more widely, spreading best practice… I believe through that we can all make a major impact. I know there is real commitment to tackle this issue. Every day I see innovations and initiatives by governments local and national, by communities, by business, by think tanks, by individuals,” she added.

Offering a business example, Tesco’s commercial director of group food, Matt Simister, said: “Tackling food waste requires collaborative action and I’d like to congratulate WRAP on the ambitious vision they have set out today.

“We’re working with WRAP, alongside our suppliers and customers, to try to cut waste at all stages of the food journey from farm to fork. The steps announced by WRAP today will not only help to significantly drive down the levels of food waste but benefit consumers and farmers too,” he added.

WRAP believes that by 2025 it could be possible to prevent up to another 15 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste and therefore food worth £45bn could be saved.

“If collectively, working together, we could do this, it would mean reducing avoidable UK food waste by half by 2025, compared to when we first started work in this area, in 2007,” said Goodwin.

Leigh Stringer

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