Resource management industry gives thumbs up to circular economy, new report finds
The resource management sector has embraced the circular economy and is positive about the financial and environmental opportunities it offers, according to a new report.
The report, entitled 'The Circular Economy what it means to the waste and resource managment sector?' was commissioned by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and is written by resource management specialists Ray Georgeson and Dr Jane Beasley.
As part of the report, an online survey was conducted and 612 people responded to it. In addition to this, 54 industry leaders were interviewed.
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A key finding from the report shows that a majority of the industry see the circular economy as a "huge opportunity" to reinvent a whole sector of the industry and "to reap the benefits that this will generate such as upskilling the workforce and creating more jobs".
The report also shows that a majority of survey respondents support the statements linking the circular economy to becoming more resource and energy efficient.
The Co-operative Group project environmental manager Sarah Wakefield was one industry leader that was interviewed about the circular economy for the report. She said: "Balancing the benefits and opportunities whilst ensuring the price is right for the customer will always be a consideration within a retail environment."
With regard to the online survey, more than 80% of respondents stated that they are very or reasonably familiar with the term circular economy and one-third of survey respondents stated that the term is used frequently within their organisations.
However, lack of awareness and poor clarity of terminology were highlighted as key hurdles to developing the circular economy. Survey respondents also indicated that they felt that few organisations or sectors were well prepared for the circular economy and felt that there was lack of leadership over the issue.
The report states: "A sense of frustration was apparent from some of those interviewed regarding what they considered to be a slow pace of change, and the fragmented feel to the current approach that lacks clear drive and leadership to move things forward.
"Others considered that the circular economy will happen naturally when the economics are right for it."
Launching the report at an event in Belfast, Northern Ireland, CIWM president John Quinn said that the circular economy was one of the "most exiting" trends that will shape the future of the resource management industry and the sector needed to grasp it "with both hands".
The CIWM has also made five key recommendations in the report, which include:
·Developing a Circular Economy Action Group to engage stakeholders within and beyond the waste and resource management sector;
·Embedding the circular economy into the Institution's training and membership offer as well as its internal structures, strategies and future planning;
·Acting as a catalyst and facilitator for the dissemination of circular economy developments and practice; and
·Supporting other circular economy initiatives, such as the RSA's The Great Recovery.
The report comes just a few months after the launch of the European Commission's 'circular economy package' which sets a stretching target of recycling or reusing 70% of municipal waste by 2030.