That’s according to WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin who said in a speech at the Westminster Forum today that resource efficiency was an overlooked way to slash global emissions.

Goodwin said that improving three specific areas would keep global warming below two degrees: reducing food waste, adopting healthy sustainable diets, and providing better products.

“You may be surprised to learn that food waste alone accounts for 8% of global emissions,” she said.

“Reducing the huge amount of food we throw away and improving how we treat food waste and agricultural residues could have a significant impact in tackling climate change.”

Goodwin also called for a less meat-focused diet, with the livestock sector currently accounting for around 15% of global carbon emissions.

Thirdly, she called for improved product design to create items that are longer-lasting, repairable and recyclable. Alongside this, Goodwin pointed to new business models that encouraged re-use such as Argos’ gadget trade-in initiative.

Goodwin said the recent circular economy package from the European Commission gives the waste industry “a framework to start from”, but that continued progress would come from convincing policy-makers and business of the economics benefits of a circular approach.

Previous research has claimed that a pan-European transition to the circular economy could be worth €1.8trn a year, while also creating three million jobs.

Goodwin’s speech comes the day after a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), which said a transition to a circular economy requires a ‘substantial expansion of the knowledge base’ in order to chart progress and identify where more work is needed.

Brad Allen

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