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Policy help needed to drive supply chain efficiency

2000 chains

One of the backers of a report on improving resource efficiency across supply chains has called for governments to play their part with policy initiatives.

The All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group published a collection of essays and case studies on 9 February, considering issues such as procurement, metrics, design, logistics, and business and consumer engagement.

The Link to Link report concludes with a dozen recommendations for the different stakeholders.

For example, the first calls on the Government to conduct a call for evidence on how UK companies embrace resource efficiency and any barriers holding them back (others are listed below).

One of the report’s sponsors was Suez, whose external affairs director Gev Eduljee contributed an overview essay.

“There are limits to the extent that individual companies can turn an entire economy around by influencing their supply chains, and the central message both from the Link to Link report and at the launch event was that governments very much have a role to play in stimulating and rewarding resource efficiency in order to build a circular economy,” he said after the event.

“While some front-running businesses recognise the benefits of resource efficiency and are tackling the challenge head-on, we are still a long way from full alignment between the commercial interests of business and the wider environmental concerns of society.”

Eduljee said most chief executives had told the UK Global Compact Survey that they had taken sustainability as far as they could within their organisations, and that greater support and market intervention by governments (not just in the UK) was necessary to incentivise circularity.

“I do not believe that it is reasonable to expect businesses to fully set aside their commercial interests in order to achieve public policy aspirations, so we must create a system and environment where it also pays to do the right thing,” he added.

Recommendations include:

  • The Government should conduct a call for evidence on resource efficiency in UK organisations.
  • Guidelines embedding resource efficiency practices should be developed for central and local Government procurement for goods and services.
  • Trade bodies should initiate a review of the inbound and outbound flows of materials and goods within their sectors to identify opportunities for efficiency gains.
  • The Government should work with industry to develop voluntary agreements, eco-labels and behaviour change campaigns that can encourage constant improvement and innovation.
  • Businesses should set up communications across their supply chains to assess the areas where improvements in resource efficiency can have the biggest impact, and put measures in place to deliver improvements in these areas.
  • The Government should establish a comprehensive material flow framework for the UK, integrating domestic extraction, imports, recycled and reuse flows, and recyclate/product outflows. Raw material conservation and efficiency targets should be set

CHAPTER AUTHORS: Dr Gev Eduljee, Suez; Liam Fassam, University of Northampton; Dr Kurt Yang Liu, Northampton Business School; Peter Jones, Policy Connect; Patrick Mahon, WRAP; Ben Peace, Knowledge Transfer Network; Dr Dominic Hogg, Eunomia; Dr Diego Vazquez-Brust and Prof Laura J Spence, Royal Holloway University of London

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