Addressing the challenges of moving to a circular economy is not a simple process. The term means different things to different people and there are large sections of society who have yet to engage with the concept or understand its benefits.
As a starter for 10 the RWM Ambassadors, a group of industry figures from business, the public sector and academia, have published a document to stimulate debate and underline which questions we must find solutions for.
Ever Decreasing Circles – Closing in on the Circular Economy highlights the need for a radical transformation in how things are produced and what and how we consume. It’s about designing out waste, consuming responsibly, leasing products rather than buying them outright. But what will be the appropriate policy framework – one that encompasses legislative and fiscal measures or one that leaves it up to market forces?
A tax on resources, in some format, is promoted as the most logical policy to stimulate a circular economy. This should be set at a level reflecting environmental damages related to the use of the resource and favour the use of secondary resources over primary one. While recognising the complex nature to implement in the current climate, the authors back the call for a ‘Stern’ style review of resources, appealing to the Treasury to ‘assess the potential for and remaining obstacles to implementing some for of resource taxation in the future’.
Other potential solutions considered include changing the fiscal landscape, such as introducing a tax linked to eco-design credentials and guarantee periods, exploring the potential for pay-as-you-throw systems, adopting a food waste hierarchy and having a thorough review of Producer Responsibility measures.
The full list of issues that need urgent solutions are:
- What is the best policy to stimulate a circular economy
- Have we got the fiscal landscape right
- What are the prospects for a circular economy if we can throw stuff away for free
- What are the data and information requirements needed to facilitate the circular economy
- Shouldn’t we standardise household waste collection systems across the UK
- Have we got Producer Responsibility right
- Is there still a role for voluntary agreements and responsibility deals
- Can Government spending stimulate a circular economy
- Shouldn’t we be doing more to encourage re-use
- Can we do more to reduce the amount of food waste
- What does the circular economy have to say about litter
Members of the RWM Ambassadors will be discussing the controversial questions that need to be answered if we are to get circular in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre at 12.20pm, 18 September.