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Innovation in the circular economy

Two developments reflected in MRW’s news coverage this week show small but important steps on the path to a circular economy.

On the policy front, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has urged greater determination from Brussels in helping boost demand for recycled materials.  The ESA says the current consultation by the EU on resource efficiency indicators pays too little regard to how much recyclate is used as a primary resource.

On an more individual basis came an initiative from Ikea, the international home products company, to set up resource chain projects with the goal of ensuring all its products from 2020 are renewable, recyclable or made from recycled materials. We like the clever idea of possibly leasing kitchen units and taking them back for reuse when tastes change. Ikea sees the plain business sense of all this, let alone the wider environmental one.

It is a recognition that Ellen MacArthur’s message from her landmark report in January, Towards the economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition, is bearing fruit.

Her cry was: “The evolution of our economy from an increasingly resource-constrained ‘take-make-dispose’ model towards one that is circular and re-generative by intention poses a huge opportunity for business innovation.”

MacArthur’s report claimed the EU manufacturing sector could realise net materials cost savings worth up to £400bn per year by 2025.

The concept of ‘designing out’ waste has been gathering momentum in many fields and is to be welcomed. It is something MRW will expect to report even more in future. But it is not just for politicians or business interests. It is for all of us to play a part, particularly in the way we as consumers live our lives.

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