Growing a circular economy: Ending the throwaway society

24th July 2014

Growing a circular economy: Ending the throwaway society

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Third Report of Session 2014-15.

The current way our economy consumes resources is not sustainable. A ‘linear’ approach–where materials are extracted, made into a product, used and discarded–wastes valuable resources and damages the environment. In addition, increasing levels of consumption in developing countries will put ever more pressure on the prices of materials and subsequent costs for businesses and consumers. A ‘circular’ approach of re-using resources, maximising their value over time, makes environmental and economic sense. There are potentially billions of pounds of benefits for businesses across the economy by becoming more resource efficient.

The Government recognises this opportunity, and is involved in a number of initiatives to support a more circular economy, but instead of scaling up its work it is cutting it back. Its approach lacks leadership. The Government should learn from the strategic vision and ambitious targets that other countries have adopted. It should embrace the EU’s ambitious targets for improving resource productivity by 30% and support business in achieving the economic and environmental benefits this would bring. It should also support the European’s Commission’s proposals for recycling and the accompanying targets, and use these to drive change.

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