WRAP calls on UK SMEs to take ‘circular leap of faith’

Liz Goodwin, the soon-to-depart chief executive of the Government's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), has today (8 March) provided new evidence of how the circular economy is beginning to make a big difference for small businesses across the UK.

In a speech at resource efficiency and circular economy event Resource this morning, Goodwin said “many are talking about the circular economy but few are taking action”, and that more businesses should be prepared to “do something extraordinary in the ordinary course of doing business”.

Goodwin, who is stepping down from her position as WRAP CEO in June, shared the results of business model shake-ups of some of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that the charity works with.


She cited Devon-based independent re-treading and tyre management company Bandvulc, which provides remanufactured tires for UK supermarket fleets and bin lorries. Bandvulc wanted to evolve into a more sustainable business and worked with WRAP to develop a servitisation-based model.

Rather than just selling tyres, Bandvulc now provides tyre management and support services to a fleet of vans using its own re-treaded tyres, which are recovered when they wear out and contracted out to vans. In effect, the company now sells a van mileage service, not tyres.

The new tyre service has generated new revenue in excess of £4m in the first three years, also bringing significant environmental savings – avoiding 300 tonnes of CO2 and 70 tonnes of rubber going to landfill.

“This created a new business model; new market, bringing new revenue, while saving valuable resources,” Goodwin said. “Bandvulc’s circular leap of faith is paying off.”

‘Prime example’

Goodwin went on to cite another SME example – online reuse platform Globechain, which connects people, charities and businesses to enable them to reuse unwanted items within a global supply chain network.

Globechain’s founder and chief executive May Al-Karooni worked with WRAP to monitor the supply chain of goods through the system. “This allowed her to understand how to bring together innovation and legislation under one framework,” Goodwin explained. “May is another example of a business leader taking the leap of faith to create something extraordinary.

“The challenge now is for more to follow.”

For larger organisations, Goodwin cited Argos as a “prime example of a major retailer that has embraced the principles of the circular economy”, after it worked with WRAP to launch a gadget trade-in initiative last year.

Liz Goodwin at edie Live 2016

WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin will be among the expert speakers at the edie Live 2016 exhibition in May. In a session focused on new business models within the edie Leaders Theatre, Goodwin will be discussing WRAP’s recent partnership with Argos in greater detail in what will be one of her last circular economy speeches ahead of her departure from WRAP in June.  

The edie Live conference and seminar programme, produced by the edie editorial team, provides visitors with practical insights to make businesses more sustainable. Find out more and register to attend here.

Q&A with WRAP’s outgoing chief executive Liz Goodwin

Luke Nicholls

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