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Resource event 2014

19th March 2014 Posted by

The recent Resource event at ExCel in London – Realising the Opportunities of a Circular Economy – could not have been better timed.

Nobody now questions the benefits that a circular economy can bring, in terms of saving businesses money, and for the wider environmental benefits from using our natural resources more efficiently. As a concept, we can safely say that far-sighted businesses and most policymakers have by now ‘got it’ – and remarkably quickly considering how long it takes for ideas like this to filter through into concrete action.

But a number of the building blocks of the circular economy – such as designing for disassembly or selling services rather than products – could take years to deliver tangible results at scale, especially with our complex and extended global supply chains.  Indeed, if circular models and all its benefits were that obvious to the business community, they would have been adopted long ago as the preferred way of doing business. The fact is that it is no easy task to unravel the basically linear supply chain models and sourcing arrangements that are currently in place.

How do we accelerate our transition to the circular economy, and what practical steps can businesses take to get there?

That was the theme of SITA UK’s workshop at the Resource event, Mapping your Journey to a Circular Economy. By systematically working through a series of steps – from “doing the basics” with a compliant waste management service at level one, to “doing it all” with full circular partnerships at level seven – we helped participants plan their business’ journey to a circular economy, drawing on the diverse experiences of the workshop group to identify solutions and innovations they could use to ensure they made best use of the resources they handled.

Because each business was different, the ethos of the workshop was to facilitate bespoke solutions. Participants were able to assess where they thought their businesses were on the journey, which level they were at, where they aspired to be and what barriers needed to be addressed.

We now know what the superstructure of a circular economy and a circular business model should look like. SITA UK’s seven-step plan is the first industry-led initiative to address the nuts and bolts of this superstructure. Our aim is to start businesses on that journey by empowering them with advice, support and tools to progress and achieve their goals.

The fact that SITA UK’s workshop was hugely oversubscribed points to the need for such practical advice. We will be organising more workshops as we continue to refine our seven-step approach to making the circular economy a reality.

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