Reuse generates greater value for circular economy

The Circular Economy Taskforce has identified how reuse, remanufacturing and secondary material supplies can address the root causes of resource insecurity. In its latest report, Resource Resilient UK, it explores the reasons why more businesses are not protecting themselves against resource risk.

The research shows businesses that wish to become more circular face two barriers – market, which keep businesses from capturing the full value of recovered resources and material, making recovery difficult or impossible. It highlights what businesses and government can do now to secure resources through a more circular economy, proposing three areas of action – clarifying exposure to risk, facilitating co-operation and enabling the design of circular systems.

The availability of water will impact on businesses in the future

splash of waterPhoto: Grant Cochrane

In addition the report recommends a list of key interventions to help businesses and the UK as a whole move towards a circular economy, to remain competitive in the global economy. The key interventions include:

·         Disclosure by companies of high impact risks on water, land and materials use in company reports to investors

·         Government-led study into the UK’s exposure to material insecurity

·         Use the government industrial strategy to broker collaboration within business sectors

·         Clarify competition law to reinforce exemptions for environmentally beneficially co-ordination between businesses

·         Encourage greater commitment on using long-term contracts and joint ventures to speed up recovery and materials and products

·         Intervene in product design directly through existing legislation to make products easier to reuse, remanufacture and recycle

 The report recognises the higher value generated from reuse and remanufacturing as these processes use less energy and water and preserve much of the value created through manufacturing. When comparing the value of raw materials, components and finished products for three items – a car, mobile phone and tonne of textiles – research found the value of the finished product is many times greater than the raw materials or components in it.

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