Green skills ‘vital’ to make circular economy profitable, says IEMA

Employing skilled sustainability professionals is essential if companies want to align better resource management with profitability, the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) has said.

The Institute has published a practical guide today to help businesses adopt a circular economy approach when it comes to advancing resource efficiency. It has also released research which shows that SMEs can achieve cost savings of more than £5,000 a year by appointing a dedicated sustainability lead, a figure which rises to over £1m for larger corporations.

This is backed up by Defra research which has identified that over 80% of £23bn of ‘quick win’ resource efficiency savings within UK businesses result from smarter raw material use and waste minimisation efforts – with a payback period of less than a year.

According to IEMA’s policy lead Josh Forthergill, environmental and sustainability professionals have a key role to play “by acting as the vital conduit within business to drive change, work with procurement departments and mainstream the skills and awareness necessary to drive forward these significant costs savings.”

In making the case for a ‘radical shake-up of resource management’, IEMA argues that price volatility of raw materials and supply shortages, disruption of supply chains and reputational risks are making this a critical issue for business.

Revenue opportunity

According to IEMA’s research, 69% of its own members surveyed said that their organisation had already identified key materials in their supply chain that are vulnerable to prices spikes or supply constraints.

To help businesses understand how circular economy attitudes to resources can work, the Institute has issued guidance and evidence for IEMA members to turn their waste costs into a revenue opportunity. An accompanying business briefing sets out the organisational benefits for non-specialists and decision-makers.

IEMA has also developed a Resource Action Maturity Planner (RAMP) which allows all sizes of business to assess what they need to do to achieve success through effective resource management.

Towards the end of last year edie’s own Resource Revolution campaign released a business blueprint outlining practical help and step-by-step advice for companies looking to drive forward resource efficiency as a first step on the path to a circular business model.

The comprehensive guide Making circular relevant: a business blueprint can be downloaded for free here.

Maxine Perella

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