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M&S urges businesses to expand waste and recycling efforts

UK businesses could increase productivity by around £100bn a year through greater recycling, anaerobic digestion schemes and other environmentally sustainable measures, according to a new report backed by Marks & Spencer.

The Fortune Favours the Brave report produced jointly by management consultants Accenture, Business in the Community and Marks & Spencer analysed existing research on the financial benefits of recycling.

It concluded moving to a circular economy model could save between £15 - £18bn a year, as has been estimated by McKinsey for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Of this, around £113 per tonne of food waste could be saved by anaerobic digestion electricity schemes and avoidance of landfill tax.

In addition around £850 per tonne of clothing in net profit could be generated from reuse and recycling, leading to savings of £1bn.  

It also pointed to evidence showing minimising waste and the better use of materials could save UK businesses £20 billion each year.

The report said there was “significant opportunities” to expand the waste management powerhouses in the east of England, midlands, north west and Yorkshire to other parts of the country.

It said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills had estimated employment in the waste management, recovery and recycling sectors is growing 3% a year and is expected to create at least 3,500 jobs annually in the next few years.

Stephen Howard, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: “In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly resource constrained world – which will need to provide for nine billion people by 2050 – it has never been more important for companies of all sizes to understand how and why sustainability is central to their long-term success and prosperity.”

Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland added: “As customer values and expectations evolve, sustainable products need to be made more desirable to engage with customers and to develop a self-sustaining, circular economy.”

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