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Parliamentary committee to launch circular economy inquiry

MPs are to investigate the practicality of a cradle-to-cradle economy and the extent to which the Government can dictate its development.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) issued a call for evidence, noting that “there has been a growing discussion of resource efficiency, the ‘circular economy’ and the economic and environmental benefits of maximising the value of resources beyond the life of a product”.

The inquiry is in two parts. The first is “the case for transforming the approach to waste, and growing a circular economy” and has five components:

  • potential economic value of resources contained in waste
  • key domestic and international links and resource value chains
  • environmental benefits of the circular economy (including design to reduce, reuse, repair/remanufacture and recycling or composting)
  • potential benefits of alternative business models, including leasing and design for reuse
  • barriers to ‘circular’ business models

The second part concerns the extent to which Government can set the conditions needed for a circular economy, with six elements:

  • what fiscal levers and policy support could be provided to business to move towards ‘circular’ models
  • regulatory barriers to be removed to innovate and create new secondary resources and markets
  • how growth in this sector can be supported, through BIS, UKTI, and UK overseas aid
  • how businesses can hbe helped to work together to ensure the value of resources are maximised over a product life
  • what encouragement individuals need to reuse and recycle rather than discard, including the role of local authorities
  • how Government promotes the circular economy through its own procurement

The EAC is calling for evidence to be submitted by 25 April on a web portal it is piloting by 25 April.

What the EAC does

The committee, chaired since 2010 by Labour’s Joan Walley, was set up in 1997 to consider the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance against sustainable development and environmental protection targets. Its remit cuts across government rather than focusing on the work of a particular department.

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