Good morning everyone,
I’m delighted to be here today, and thanks to Maxine for the introduction.
I want you to think about something for a second if you will?
Think about whether you still have the same mobile phone you had seven or eight years ago…
Or perhaps more realistically, how many phones you have had since that time.
I dare say most of us have changed our phones in that period; some of us have changed them several times.
And it’s not surprising when you consider what you now get for your money.
Just a few years ago we were wowed with the idea that mobile technology meant we could connect to other people as they went about their daily lives.
Whereas now we demand that our phones allow us to not only connect with others, but with every part of our own daily lives.
If I just think about my own experience…
I recently went to a friend’s wedding in Latvia. We used the phone Sat Nav capabilities to get to the airport and check for any traffic delays…
We had our boarding passes on our phones to show airport staff…
Whilst waiting for the flight, my husband Bruce asked me to check something on the bank account which I did through the App…
When we were away, we used the phone to find a restaurant to eat in one evening… and to check the weather forecast…
We used the phone to take photos of the wedding…
And we could then share them with others through Facebook, Twitter or email…
Mobile phones are fully interactive and some people have become dependent on them.
It’s hard to believe how far they have come in such a short time…
and no wonder why some are so quick to trade them in for the latest model.
Phone companies have been quick to offer new models to stay competitive, keep consumers loyal to their brands and make a profit.
What they’ve not done though is tap into the opportunities available from the older phones that are left behind.
After all, not all of us demand the very latest technology and some are quite happy with older models, and what they offer.
So our old phones needn’t be cast to the back of the bedside drawer alongside forgotten francs and pesetas.
Unlike old currency, our phones can be traded, they have value.
They can be refurbished for re-use or recycled at the very least.
And now for the first time, a major retailer has bought into this idea by working with WRAP, through the EU funded REBus project.
This work has led to Argos launching its very own gadget trade-in scheme, a real first for a major retailer.
I am delighted we could help Argos take this new business model to market.
Its proof that the circular economy is relevant to major businesses every bit as much as it is for start-ups.
The difference is that, unlike a start-up, there are often more hurdles to overcome in order to make new business models a reality.
After all, the bigger the business:
the more processes you have to adhere too,
the more paperwork you have to fill in, and
the more people you need to get on board.
WRAP’s efforts will be focused on meeting these challenges head on…
…to come up with solutions to help not only start-ups and SMEs, but major businesses like Argos, to help bring new business models to market.
We have a process in place that helps iron out any difficulties.
So what are some of the challenges we’ve encountered?
Often the barriers to implementation comes from within – the internal stakeholders inside the organisation that is considering changing.
So, to give you some examples:
If we need to reach people within businesses en masse we can hold internal workshops to discuss how the business models can align with existing business strategies.
If the finance director doesn’t see the value, we can help them explore the feasibility of projects, and how the models can align to existing financial structures.
And we can help them assess the cost of operations, investment, expected breakeven points, ROI and expected environmental benefits.
We can help the business develop a detailed business case, which factors in areas such as marketing and competitor analysis…
route to market, customer journey, operational and logistics…
and products and supply chain implications.
So we are on hand, ready to work with those people who want to implement change, but have barriers to overcome.
There will always be barriers, and reasons to not make changes.
But I believe change can be positive and sometimes it’s essential for the long term.
After all, as Winston Churchill I believe once said:
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
I believe we have the skills and expertise to help build the case for change – to make new business models a reality – to help bring them to market…
as we have done with Argos.
So I urge businesses – maybe some of the ones those of you here today represent – to come and talk to us about how we can help that change.
There is so much potential in the circular economy…
In January, WRAP, together with Green Alliance, published some groundbreaking work, which showed the scale of opportunities for job creation in the UK through the circular economy.
We showed the opportunities to address regional imbalances in unemployment…
Opportunities to create jobs for high unemployment groups such as the low-skilled…
And opportunities to offset the expected decline in some mid-level occupations.
Our work showed opportunities to get 54,000 unemployed into work, and to create 200,000 gross jobs, by 2030.
This was the UK picture, but WRAP has built on this work to paint the picture across the EU nations.
It shows the scope to create 1.2 million jobs across Europe…
And to reduce unemployment by a quarter of a million.
What’s more the research shows the scale of opportunities for individual EU Member States.
We are the first organisation to offer such detailed insight.
What this means is we can give an idea of the amount of jobs available in France, Germany, in fact any of the 28 EU Member States.
As I was telling EU politicians and business leaders at a resource efficiency debate in Brussels on Monday evening, the findings make for interesting reading.
Whilst overall our work showed Germany to have the most job opportunities from a circular economy across Europe…
when you estimate the jobs per 10,000 population in circular economy activities by country, Baltic States fare best.
Latvia, which gets its second mention today, comes out on top with Lithuania and Estonia close behind.
These countries are closely followed by the Netherlands and France.
This is largely due to the levels of activities taking place in these countries around recycling, repair, renting and leasing, and remanufacturing.
What is encouraging from the study is that there are many benefits to a circular economy right across Europe.
But whilst there are benefits for job creation from a circular economy, let’s take a moment to think of the picture from another perspective.
Remember the year 2000 – Y2K – the millennium bug?
It seems like only yesterday doesn’t it?
And yet, today we are closer to the year 2030 than 2000, and it’s a time of considerable challenges.
By that time severe water stress is predicted to affect half the world population.
And energy demand is predicted to be up by 40 percent.
All at a time when the global middle class is predicted to rise to 4.9 billion people, and with it, a huge rise in the demand for consumer goods.
Forget the millennium bug…
After all, bugs pass.
We face the prospect of something long term.
For failure to change the way we consume our precious resources today…
will have long term implications for the health of our planet and its citizens.
We are talking about the futures of our children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren.
They deserve better don’t they?
And we can help them have better.
For me it’s simple:
The case to do something and look out for the interests of future generations through positive change…
…is only made stronger if you consider the negative outlook they face if we choose to do nothing.
As businesses, governments, individuals – you and me, we can start a resource revolution for the better…
… And together we can stop the scene I’m setting becoming the landscape of the lives for future generations.
The European Commission has a golden opportunity to lead this agenda…
To set out a vision for what Europe will look like in 2030.
WRAP has been clear on the areas it believes the Commission should prioritise in its circular economy package.
The need for an EU Vision, based on whole-systems thinking that considers what a more circular EU economy could look like by 2025…
and then identifies the priority actions and approaches that will help us to get there
The need for EU-wide action on food, including food waste…
And the need for EU action to encourage greater use of Resource Efficient Business Models…
Like the ones I am showing you today.
I look forward to seeing the final circular economy strategy in due course, and hope dearly that it’s not an opportunity missed.
Because we have to take this opportunity – and as someone said at the debate on Monday – there is no alternative.
Because as I hope you have seen and heard today…
… together we can benefit from what the circular economy provides us as individuals and businesses…
And together we can utilise what the circular economy has to offer for the benefit of future generations.
Thank you.
Liz Goodwin is chief executive of waste advisory body WRAP
Source: Recycling BG

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