M&S sustainability chief takes circular economy learning global

Businesses need a "big tent" in which they can share experiences and solutions to advance sustainable best practice, Mike Barry has said in his inaugural speech as chair of the World Environment Center (WEC).

The appointment of Barry, who is head of sustainable business at Marks & Spencer, should strengthen WEC efforts to tackle the growing global corporate sustainability challenge in a practical manner.

The US-based NGO helps its member companies to create strategic alliances with governments, multi-lateral organisations, universities and other key stakeholders and convenes thought leadership to shape strategic thinking across a range of sustainability topics.

Barry said he had real determination to grow WEC’s influence in this sphere by helping to find new ways of creating greater value for business, as well as society and the environment.

Towards the end of last year, he warned that large businesses had no realistic alternative but to embrace a circular economy if they want to remain operational in the future.

Speaking to delegates at WRAP’s annual conference Barry said that the circular economy would happen “whether you like it or not” and that big corporations – including M&S – were coming under increasing threat from a new wave of disruptive innovation such as social media and public cynicism over how multi-nationals operate.

Maxine Perella

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