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The real game changer

1st February 2013 Posted by

Recent news of Ellen MacArthur’s presence at the World Economic Forum in Davos to recruit “100 CEOs into joining forces with her to take the circular economy to scale” is to be welcomed. The concept of the circular economy is not new. China adopted a Circular Economy Law as the basis for its national economic planning back in 2008, while resource-constrained economies such as Japan have espoused closed loop policies for over a decade. In 2008, our parent company SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT was one of the first, certainly the first within the environmental services sector, to formally adopt the circular economy as its strategic business development goal. Recovering value and creating markets for the materials and energy we produce from the waste we handle is at the forefront of SITA UK’s forward-planning and investment decisions.

While talk of the circular economy has abounded in recent months – Defra has convened a taskforce to explore its potential – Ellen MacArthur’s charismatic and committed advocacy is perhaps aimed at a willing listener. As SITA UK’s customer base exemplifies, the major brands meeting in Davos have typically been well ahead of the policymakers in ‘greening’ their businesses, if only because of the substantial savings that resource efficiency can deliver. But individual companies can only control their own supply chains.  To truly scale up the circular economy beyond a few hundred individual transactions, a comprehensive framework of policies is needed, that can be applied at national and supra-national level. 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.

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.

SITA UK publication: Achieving the vision of no more waste: Engaging in the circular economy

Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/davos-2013-ellen-macarthur-report

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