Over 40 leading UK businesses have joined a new initiative that challenges them to reduce waste and ‘turn it into wealth’ as part of a plan to double the nation’s resource productivity by 2030.
Launched by Business in the Community, The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, the Waste to Wealth initiative focuses on the role of waste reduction in tackling climate change.
Founding signatories include Bupa, The Co-Operative, Greggs, Heineken, Iceland, Marks & Spencer, Toyota, Unilever and Veolia.
Seven ‘champions’ for specific sectors have also been announced: JLL and Interface for construction; Burger King, Nestle, Sainsbury’s and Sodexo for food; and European Metal Recycling for metals.
All signatories have committed to:
- Setting targets to improve the productivity of key resources
- Redesigning how resources are used in their products, services and operations
- Collaborating across their organisations, value chains and sectors
- Reconvening and reporting on progress annually to share learning.
‘Give consumers help’
TV chef and waste campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, was one of 200 leaders attending the launch of the initiative on 22 November. He said: “It’s becoming ever more visibly and painfully obvious that the world’s resources are finite. So we would be mad to continue wasting them at the current rate. It’s increasingly clear that, as consumers, an overwhelming majority of us actually want to do something about it. But there is only so far individuals can go.
“It is up to businesses and government to rise to the challenge of creating a circular economy that values our precious resources, and gives consumers help, incentives and direction to play their part in tackling waste.”
A survey of 2,000 people, published to coincide with the launch, showed that consumers were willing to work with business to reduce waste.
For example, 82 per cent supported money-back incentives to return used packaging and 79 per cent agreed with getting store loyalty points. Almost four in ten people supported equipment and tool hire rather than purchasing products outright as a way to decrease waste in future.
‘Find out your resource footprint’
The findings support the results of another recent survey from Cardiff University, which surprised researchers for the “overwhelming” level of support for action on unsustainable material use.
Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: “The research shows that customers welcome action from business which encourages them to do the right thing. Businesses can start by finding out what their resource footprint is.”