Advance London was launched at City Hall by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), a partnership between the Mayor of London and London’s Boroughs dedicated to improving waste and resource management within the capital.

The scheme forms part of a £50m three-year programme which LWARB hopes will kick-start the Mayor of London’s challenge for London to achieve a 65% recycling rate by 2030 and become a zero-carbon city by 2050.

“London is home to some impressive circular economy leaders,” LWARB member and circular economy lead councillor Bassam Mahfouz said. “The nature of the circular economy requires collaboration throughout the supply chain and changes the way businesses interact with consumers – Advance London aims to help SMEs in the capital do exactly that.

“As more and more businesses ‘go circular’, new opportunities will emerge for SMEs to be innovative in the way that they tackle market challenges, and this programme will help a number of businesses through the transition. We believe London can be a real world-leader in nurturing circular economy businesses and become a genuinely resource-efficient global city.”

The scheme will provide free practical help and advice to assist SMEs in identifying circular economy opportunities. A team of skilled business advisors will deliver a series of events, workshops and one-to-one business support, and will also support existing circular enterprises to overcome any barriers to growth and improve their competitiveness.

The project, which will start delivering direct support to SMES from May 2017, will receive up to £630,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.

Circular capital

An improved circular economy model in London is estimated to have the potential to create 40,000 new jobs by 2030 as well as lowering unemployment and providing financial incentives. However, a lot of progress will be required to help the capital become a resource efficiency hub; research shows that only four London boroughs out of the 32 are above the national domestic recycling average of 44.9%.

An area of particular concern is food waste; consumers are spending £1.4bn collectively on food that gets discarded in London, which generates around 2.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions in return. To combat the issue, LWARB last month unveiled the nine London boroughs that will task hospitality and food service businesses to reduce the estimated 900,000 tonnes of food that is thrown away each year.

A number of London-based companies are starting to explore the opportunities provided by the circular economy. Bofuel company Bio-bean, for instance, runs a scheme which recycles spent coffee grounds from independent cafés, coffee chains, transport hubs and office blocks around London. Bio-bean recently participated in a pioneering initiative alongside multi-sector firms at the Canary Wharf estate, with the aim to repurpose hundreds of tonnes of waste generated from coffee drinking a year.

Earlier this month, major coffee retailers and businesses in the London Square Mile joined forces to launch a scheme which aims to recycle half a million coffee cups in London in April.

George Ogleby

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