‘Coherent narrative’ needed to drive circular economy movement

British business hasn't organised itself properly and lacks coherence when it comes to making the transition to a circular economy, according to Conservative MP Laura Sandys.

Speaking at the launch of the second Circular Economy Taskforce Report from the Green Alliance yesterday (15 July) Sandys said the Government needs a clearer dialogue and more unified voice from businesses in order to embrace the circular economy model.

“Having helped set up the circular economy taskforce, the Government is open to the circular economy,” she said. “There are often questions asked about whether Government is prepared to engage with the transition to circular economy, but I think it actually comes down to how businesses are creating a coherent narrative. Where is the industry?

“Business hasn’t organised itself. And if business hasn’t organised itself and gone to Government in a much more coherent way with end users and groups that are part of the supply chain, then there is no coherent narrative.

“In a strange way, the narrative that is getting through to Government is actually via groups like the Green Alliance, the IPPR and others. So it’s a bit about you – the sector – starting to engage with us. You need something that is actually organised in a way that Government and BIS can engage with and start to work with.”

Lacking innovation

The South Thanet MP went on to highlight a ‘problem’ with corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting and noted a lack of technological innovation when it comes to driving the circular economy movement.

“I think we’ve got a real problem with CSR… There’s a lot of superficiality in the whole process. I would prefer not to see superficiality and not to see CSR if that’s what it’s delivering. We need some good business models in the sector.

“To the industry I say: where is the technological innovation? Where is the step change in how we look at waste and how we manage it? To be frank, it’s all still carts and bins. Start thinking about new ways and talk to producers of products and services.

“We need a technological step change because if all we’re going to do is rely on carts on bins we’re going to continue having mixed waste and we’re not going to be able to manage this as we ought to.”

Sandys was chairing the launch of the second report of the Circular Economy Task Force, a business-led group convened by Green Alliance. The report highlighted that the UK is losing £1.7bn worth of recyclable and reusable products each year because its recycling system is ‘disjointed’.

Download the full report – Wasted opportunities: Smarter systems for resource recovery – here.

Luke Nicholls

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