UK businesses target resource productivity through 'waste to wealth' commitment
A group of more than 40 major businesses including Unilever, Sky, Iceland and PwC have signed a new "waste to wealth" commitment that aims to double the UK's resource productivity by 2030.
The Waste to Wealth Commitment has been orchestrated by Business in the Community (BITC) and calls on UK corporates to redesign how resources are used across products, services and operations, in order to cut back on waste volumes.
The Commitment is in recognition of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report – released last month – which outlines the necessity in redefining interactions with resources in over to avoid severe climate change and environmental impacts over the next 12 years.
Businesses including Bupa, The Co-Operative Bank, Deloitte, Greggs, Heineken, Iceland, Lloyds Banking Group, Marks & Spencer, PwC, Sky, Thames Water, Toyota, Unilever and Veolia have joined the commitment.
BITC’s chairman and Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch, said: “We know that we only have 12 years to change our relationship with the resources we use in order to avoid catastrophic climate change and restore the health of our environment. The clock is ticking.
"If businesses were presented with a similarly concerning outlook on the state of their markets, the competency of their core products or the future of their customer base they would use all the power and influence at their disposal to change track. To pivot in order to secure their future. That is why today we are calling on business leaders to use these same skills, mentality and approach to tackle the environmental challenge before us.”
Signatories to the Commitment – which are set to increase over the coming months – have pledged to set targets to improve the productivity of key resources; work collectively to double the nation’s resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste by 2030; redesign how resources are used; collaborate across sectors; and provide annual progress reports on efforts and learnings to date.
JLL, Interface, Burger King, Nestle, Sainsbury’s, Sodexo and European Metal Recycling have all been selected as Waste to Wealth “Champions” that will develop innovation hubs to trial and introduce innovative new resource solutions. The seven champions were identified by Defra and will report annually to The Prince’s Responsible Business Network.
Defra’s Secretary of State Michael Gove added: “I commend Business in the Community, and the companies committing to work towards a more circular economy. We need to cut avoidable waste and start looking at the waste we do produce as a valuable resource.
“Today builds on the excellent work that HRH the Prince of Wales has done to raise environmental issues over many decades and help to drive real change. By working together, we can all play a part in eliminating unnecessary waste to leave the environment in a better state for future generations.”
The Commitment builds on BITC’s circular offices campaign, which aims to make the circular economy mainstream by getting businesses to target a commonality across the office space of all sectors. Around 60% of European office space isn’t used during working hours, and the costs of office waste have risen to £15bn.
The Commitment arrives as the UK awaits the publication of the Government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy. Set for publication this month, the strategy looks set to include increased rates of tax on virgin materials, coupled with tax breaks for manufacturers using recycled content in their products.