Green Alliance: Businesses undersupported in circular economy transition

Think tank Green Alliance has released a new report expressing the demand for government support from businesses who are trying to adopt circular business models.

Circular Economy

Drawing on ‘anonymous insights’ from experts within the electronics, fashion and textiles, and construction industries, the organisation makes it clear that industry players want to transition to more circular practices, but it is a lack of incentive from the Government that is preventing market development.

Not only would a circular economy cut carbon emissions, the report emphasises, it also creates jobs and supports economic growth on multiple levels.

The report finds that circularity is driven by carbon reporting and targets, and those motivated to reduce carbon are actively encouraging their clients and suppliers to take on similar practices. However, more economy-wide incentives and support from the Government is needed to secure widespread adoption of these models.

Similarly, the economic benefits of circular practices must be made explicit to persuade businesses to invest in these products and services. It is primarily an awareness of risks that long-term unsustainable practices pose to supply chains that motivate circular practices from businesses.

One construction products supplier told the body: “Supply chain risks and fluctuating costs have strengthened the appeal of takeback and reuse. You can make huge savings in the cost of inputs, as well as in embodied energy.”

Industry representatives urge the Government to ‘level the playing field’ in supporting smaller organisations trying to operate more sustainably. One way in which this can be achieved is in setting clearer standard requirements. Additionally, they believe that policy could build much greater demand for circular products and services, and could encourage innovation to drive down cost and support greater quantity and quality of circular initiatives.

The recommendations

Based on these conversations, the report poses multiple recommendations to encourage growth, improve economic security, and reduce carbon emissions.

Green Alliance calls on the Government to introduce emissions reporting and circular economy statements into the Green Finance Strategy. In particular, it recommends a mandatory disclosure of scope three emissions by large companies from 2024, including those found in purchased goods and services. This includes a transition plan containing a statement on how companies will cut emissions through greater circularity.

The report also proposes that sectors convene to agree on standards and to produce up to date, accessible data to encourage progress and to create action among international working groups.

The use of planning rules is suggested as a way to stimulate circularity. Looking to a recommendation from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), carbon emissions and material use should be assessed when public and private construction projects are planned from 2025, which can be achieved through current planning reforms.

Finally, the report looks to strengthen reporting requirements for large public contracts as a way to acquire carbon reduction plans from suppliers, including all those embodied in purchased goods and services.

Addressing the struggles brought about by the current cost of living crisis, the report recommends organisations use products that will last longer, can be used more efficiently or economically through leasing.