The first of a group of about 200 ‘leaders’ from business, government, academia and civic society have agreed to commit to reduce waste or turn waste into wealth a summit in London heard today.
Taking place at Veolia’s Southwark waste facility in London, the ‘Waste to Wealth Summit’ saw HRH The Prince of Wales and environment secretary Michael Gove deliver keynote addresses about resource efficiency.
And, HRH The Prince of Wales took the opportunity to signal his support for a deposit scheme.
The event, for Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, said that it was about “the need for business to reduce waste or turn waste into wealth to prevent catastrophic climate change”.
Mr Gove detailed how the government will support businesses which are stepping up to this challenge. This sees the business leaders committing to actions in a “Waste to Wealth Commitment”, which Business in the Community says, will help collectively double the nation’s resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste by 2030.
Over 40 leading businesses signed the Waste to Wealth Commitment including Bupa, The Co-Operative Bank, Deloitte, Greggs, Heineken, Iceland, Lloyds Banking Group, Marks & Spencer, PwC, Sky, Thames Water, Toyota, Unilever and Veolia and more are expected to join.
The Waste to Wealth Commitment signatories are committing to the following actions:
- Set targets to improve the productivity of resources that are key for business.
- Work collectively towards doubling the nation’s resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste by 2030, contributing in the way that is most relevant to business.
- Redesign how resources are used in products, services and operations.
- Collaborate across organisations, value chains and sectors.
- Reconvene and report on progress annually to share learning and demonstrate results
Seven Waste to Wealth Champions representing key areas identified by Defra will also be announced at the summit and have also signed the Commitment. The Waste to Wealth Champions are: JLL and Interface representing construction, Burger King, Nestle, Sainsbury’s and Sodexo representing food and European Metal Recycling representing metals.
The Waste to Wealth Champions will develop and deliver innovation hubs to identify challenges, create roadmaps and start to develop innovative solutions, reporting annually to The Prince’s Responsible Business Network.
Speaking at today’s event, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, discussed the history of mankind’s use of resources. “Now the weight of our footprint has suddenly become much heavier and much more disruptive … we use timber and hydrocarbons have warned up our planet to the point where we are undermining the earth to be able to hand it on to future generations.”
He went on to emphasise the need to move to a circular econonomy which “recognises the limits on this planet… change has to come.”
Following on from Mr Gove, HRH Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, said: “Turning waste into wealth this is a subject that needs to be closer if we are to achieve the future we want for our families, our businesses, our society and our planet.”
The Prince referenced change in public attitudes since the BBC’s Blue Planet was shown. “This seems to have tapped into a great deal of unease.”
“It is clear that recycling is part of the answer,” he continued. “We have become very good at making things now we have to get much better at unmaking and remaking them. And to assist that process we have to find ways of giving what we unhelpfully refer to as waste a proper value, we have to monetise it.
“Finding solutions to the challenges of using resources more effectively can deliver lower cost, higher value ways of working, beneficial to businesses to the communities they operate in and to the environment.”
He signalled a support for deposit scheme on plastic bottles and the introduction of reverse vending machines, which “might be quite helpful”.
One suggestion he also made was to look at “how best to put sellers in touch with buyers”. He asked: “How does one company know what another has to offer? A centralised location might be one idea but you might not want to transport too far… there is a Netherlands excess material exchange, which does look promising as one approach that might unlock the potential of the circular economy.”