The world, and particularly corporate business, is challenged by the need to maintain growth and prosperity whilst at the same time strengthen the systems that support us and preserve the resources that fuel our economy.
Growing interest in this dilemma from the likes of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggest it is time to rethink the way we operate. The circular economy holds the promise of reconciling these seemingly opposing objectives and creating long-term value. Flemming Besenbacher of Carlsberg A/S is quoted as saying “It is my firm belief that the ‘take-make-waste’ economy is about to be replaced by a circular, restorative approach where we no longer consider anything to be ‘waste’.
The circular economy is a welcome alternative, one in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. It has the potential to create further opportunities for UK and global growth, reduce waste, drive greater resource productivity, address emerging resource scarcity issues, deliver a more competitive UK and global economy, and help reduce the environmental impacts of UK production and consumption.
How encouraging to see the UK Government taking a stance on plastic waste, Iceland lead the way on a pledge to remove plastic packaging from all its own-label products by 2023 and other retailers showing signs of following suit. As retail customers become increasingly discriminatory on the grounds of corporate sustainability policy and behaviour, commercial reality supported by governmental action has the potential to force this issue. Perhaps the current plastic packaging environmental crisis will prove to be a trigger for real change towards a Corporate UK circular economy mind-set, one in which the procurement and supply chain function have a leading role to play.