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Resource Resilient UK #circulareconomy

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Resource Resilient UK - Circular Economy

Here is the first year report of the Circular Economy Task Force, a government supported, business led group convened by Green Alliance. It is a forum for policy innovation which aims to disseminate information and recommendations on the best responses to sustainable resource security.

Their Executive summary

Resource security concerns have increased significantly over the past five years, reflecting risks affecting the availability and the price of materials essential to industry.

The root causes of resource insecurity lie substantially in environmental problems. Water scarcity, rising extraction costs for fossil fuels and limitations on land availability increasingly constrain supply at a time when demand is growing. Greater visibility of globalised supply chains, alongside rising public concern about environmental damage, is compounding these pressures.

To address resource constraints on business, the Circular Economy Task Force has identified how reuse, remanufacturing and secondary material supplies can address the root causes of resource insecurity.

Some businesses are already protecting themselves against resource risks by making their operations more circular. The Task Force has explored why other businesses haven’t done so. The analysis shows that businesses want to become more circular, but they face two types of barriers: market barriers, which keep businesses from capturing the full value of recovered resources; and material barriers, which make recovery difficult or impossible.

This report describes what businesses and government can do now to secure resources for UK industry through a more circular economy. No single intervention on its own will be sufficient. Instead, the Task Force proposes three areas of action: clarifying exposure to risk, facilitating co-operation and enabling the design of circular systems.

Key interventions recommended include

* disclosure by companies of high impact risks on water, land, and materials use in company reports to investors
* a government-led study into the UK’s exposure to material insecurity, starting with sectors identified by the industrial strategy as those most able to contribute to growth
* using the industrial strategy to broker collaboration within business sectors
* clarifying competition law to reinforce exemptions for environmentally beneficial co-ordination between businesses
* much greater commitment from businesses to use long term contracts and joint ventures to speed up recovery of materials and products; and
* intervening in product design directly through existing legislation to make products easier to reuse, remanufacture and recycle

UK businesses have been at the forefront of circular economy thinking, but progress on the ground has yet to catch up with the rhetoric. The actions proposed by Task Force are intended to give companies the confidence to pursue circular approaches, and to help to create the tipping points that enable a resource resilient UK.

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