London’s first Circular Economy Week promotes sustainable business opportunities
Last week saw the first ever Circular Economy Week take place in London, encouraging businesses, social enterprises and residents to find out what they can do to aid the city’s transition towards a more circular, resilient and resource-efficient economy.
Running from 18-22 June and led by the Circular London programme from the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), Circular Economy Week held a number of events including seminars and panel discussions to urge action in areas such as the built environment, plastics, food, textiles and electricals.
The week of events included retail chain John Lewis’ announcement that it would be launching a new takeback trial for unwanted clothing, two workshops from Advance London on communications and material innovation, a screening of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2018 Summit with the Circular Economy Club at the Museum of Happiness – and many more.
The main event saw Circular London host ‘Collaborative London’ on Monday (18 June), an event designed to spark collaboration and action by showcasing projects and pitches from creative small businesses across the capital and where Circular London took the opportunity to provide an update on progress since the publication of London’s circular economy route map, launched last June.
In addition, the event featured panel discussions from circular economy experts and practitioners, including insights from Borough Market and Plan Zheroes about their redistribution of surplus food from market traders to local beneficiaries over the past four years. Clarion Housing Group also gave a presentation on how Clarion’s major housing regeneration project in Merton, South London, will enable the reuse of demolished materials by passing them on to community groups or social enterprises.
Individual London residents were encouraged to do their bit by taking part in 15 challenges contributing to the circular economy, including using a reusable coffee cup or water bottle, sharing unwanted food through food sharing apps, donating unwanted items to charity rather than throwing them out and borrowing or renting equipment such as power tools rather than purchasing them.
A raft of interactive resources were also launched for businesses to make use of, with organisations able to find partners and share experiences and insight on a new Circular London website, in order to overcome barriers to increasing circularity in London.
Commenting on Circular Economy Week before the launch, Wayne Hubbard, Chief Executive at LWARB, said: “London is one of the most vibrant business hubs in the world, and Circular Economy Week provides a great opportunity to celebrate and showcase the great efforts already underway, and inspire new action to help us lead the way on the circular economy.
“Collaboration is vital if we want London to be the global leader in the delivery of circular economy, sharing learning and good practice with other cities around the world. We’re calling on organisations of all shapes and sizes to get involved to help us achieve this.”
Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, added: “In his London Environment Strategy, the Mayor is clear about his ambition for London to become a low-carbon circular economy – the city’s economic and environmental future depends on it.
“At the moment, our economy is geared towards using resources in a linear way, but this is inefficient and unsustainable. The Mayor also wants to prevent materials from becoming waste in the first place by promoting more sustainable, circular business models across the capital.
“Circular Economy Week will help raise the profile of these important issues, encourage people across London to support the transition to a circular economy and help make London a zero-waste city.”
Below are the 15 challenges set for Circular Economy Week and beyond:
- Freeze food to make it last longer
- Buy products made from waste
- Share surplus food through food sharing apps
- Carry a refillable water bottle and drink tap water
- Enjoy surplus restaurant food at a discount with the Too Good To Go app
- Use a reusable coffee cup
- Share your time and skills in return for others’
- Borrow or rent equipment
- Take a travel cutlery set with you
- Donate unwanted items to charity
- Say no to plastic straws
- Repair your broken-down electronic devices
- Swap unwanted clothes with others
- Pick up a piece of litter and pop it in the bin
- Recycle your food waste