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Waste Prevention: Policy Leadership - The professional body

The greatest challenge to waste prevention is that our economy does not really encourage sustainable behaviour. It is based on the need for year-on-year growth to support monetary expansion and lending.

But how do you successfully break a mistaken and destructive intellectual and economic consensus? An economic model built around sharing ownership and increasing wellbeing, rather than material wealth, would be able to support the population in a more sustainable way.

The work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has shown the potential of moving to a circular economy. What we now need is for our political leaders to take ambitious and innovative decisions to keep our resource priorities down and not be afraid to ask more from business.

We currently allow businesses the full authority to supply products with no environmental responsibility for their impact. This is absurd. Responsibility has to lie within the supply chain in order to internalise end-of-life externalities as part of the design, materials, logistics and marketing, or progress will not be made.

The CIWEM’s latest report ( advocates that waste prevention is not solely an issue for the waste management industry, and shows the potential to prevent waste across the life cycle of a product.

It also means that high profile, cross-Government actions will be required to make the UK’s economy and society one of the most resource efficient in the world.

The waste prevention strategy, currently out for consultation, is a clear opportunity. If England is to compete on the global stage, it must be brave, ambitious and innovative enough to do things differently. We need a far more strategic approach, led by the Government.

Nick Reeves, CIWEM

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