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Circular economy could create 40,000 London jobs

2000 greg barker

Adopting a circular economy in London could create more than 40,000 new jobs by 2030, according to research by WRAP

The ‘Employment and the Circular Economy’ report says excess unemployment in the capital could be reduced by 12.5%, if investment in place is put in place now.

It says a circular economy could create jobs because the types of businesses involved in re-using, repair, remanufacturing and rental require more labour to create economic value, notably amongst low to mid-skilled occupations, where future job losses in London are expected.

The report was produced for the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC), London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

LSDC chair Lord Barker of Battle (pictured) said: “The circular economy is already alive and kicking in London. We have many examples of companies – large and small – that are inspired by the vision of a resource efficient economy and creating innovative new products and services.

“There are many more opportunities for businesses in the capital to take advantage of the circular economy, but business and Government need to come together and take action to stimulate and accelerate.

“If we act now, London can be a global leader in the technologies and systems required to be at the forefront of this revolution – a revolution that will unite business interests with the city’s wider development needs and ensure we remain globally competitive.”

The report says there are already 46,700 people employed in circular economy activities and predicts three possible futures for progress towards a more circular economy:

  • The first envisages that no new initiatives are taken and produces a potential of 1,100 net new circular economy jobs
  • In the second, the pace of current progress is assumed to be maintained to 2030, resulting in an expansion of the circular economy which could potentially create 16,000 new jobs in London
  • The third scenario is that extensive transition towards a circular economy in London could create 40,000 new jobs created and unemployment lowered as ‘excess’ unemployment falls by around 12.5%

WRAP head of economics, Peter Mitchell, said: “Knowing that a more circular economy delivers economic and environmental benefits is great but seeing its potential to offer a wide range of jobs in the capital is excellent. “

“Crucially, through creating thousands of jobs with the right mix of skills and in the right locations it will deliver lasting reductions in unemployment and offer opportunities in segments of the capital’s jobs market that are expected to decline.”

LWARB has also launched its ‘Towards a Circular Economy’ route map, commissioned by Boris Johnson, which details how these jobs will be created and the types of investment required to bring about this transformation by 2036.

Initial focus for the route map is on the built environment, electricals, textiles, food and plastics, due to their high environmental impact, their retained financial value and potential for re-use.

LWARB chief operating officer, Wayne Hubbard estimated that a circular economy in London could be worth at least £7bn every year by 2036 in the built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics sectors alone.

He said: “In early 2016 LWARB will be approaching businesses and organisations working in these ‘focus areas’ to identify how we can collaborate to accelerate London’s transition to a more circular economy, and realise these huge benefits.”

The mayor has also asked the Greater London Authority to review its procurement policies in line with circular economy principles, to help stimulate more circular economy solutions in the capital.

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