Pressure grows to legislate for circular economy to achieve scale

A circular economy cannot be achieved by business collaboration alone - strong intervention is also required from world governments, a leading commentator has warned.

Dr Gev Eduljee, director of external affairs at SITA, has called for “game changing” action to accelerate new ways of working under a circular economy, but argues that a “few hundred transactions” between businesses will only go so far.

“To truly scale up the circular economy … a comprehensive framework of policies is needed, that can be applied at national and supra-national level,” he said.

“This will address the internal and cross-boundary flow of raw materials, the design and use of consumer products, the efficiency of our production and manufacturing processes, and the return to productive use of post-consumer goods and materials, replacing virgin raw materials.”

While welcoming recent coverage the circular economy has received, most notably from the presence of Dame Ellen MacArthur at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Eduljee believes the foundation she heads up may have missed a golden opportunity with the launch of its Circular Economy 100 business-to-business alliance.

“Rather than recruiting 100 CEOs, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation should recruit 100 governments to the cause, starting with the economic partners to whom we are most closely bound – the member states of the European Union. That would be a real game changer,” he argued.

He added that individual companies can only control their own supply chains, hinting that regulation was needed to embed meaningful behaviour change into sustainable consumption.

SITA, through its parent company Suez Environnement, has a strong interest in how a circular economy can be delivered on the ground.

It was one of the first companies within the environmental services sector, to formally adopt the circular economy as its strategic business development goal.

In 2011 it led an extensive study in association with the Green Alliance to explore the role of incentives in circulating resources more effectively within the economy. The findings from this fed into a CBI conference on resource security and the highly influential McKinsey report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Maxine Perella

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