Waste firm Veolia has highlighted the innovative business models that could help three key industry sectors to generate £4 billion in value by reusing, recycling or remanufacturing their ‘unutilised’ waste.
The report, Imagine 2050, reveals that the manufacturing, pharmaceutical and chemical, and food and drink sectors collectively generate a “waste mine” of around 13 million tonnes annually.
If properly reused, recycled or remanufactured, this waste could generate £4 billion of value that is currently hidden.
Veolia argues that business models and operations in these sectors can be re-engineered and redesigned so that products and manufacturing processes are completed in a way that ‘closes the loop’ by preventing unutilised resources such as energy and water from going to waste.
For example, manufacturing businesses can benefit from £2.8 billion of hidden value in unutilised waste streams by generating, reusing and recovering energy and waste resources.
By 2050, emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and 3D printing will be embedded into manufacturing supply chains, helping businesses turn their waste materials into tradable commodities.
Businesses in the pharmaceutical and chemical sector are missing out on around £800 million of hidden value by failing to design efficiency into products at the concept stage and use new dynamics, including financial models.
3D printing could also provide huge benefits to this sector by enabling mass production of medicines at local levels.
Meanwhile, the report estimates that food and drink companies are currently wasting around £460 million of valuable resources. Businesses in this sector can recoup this value by investing in new technology to minimise energy usage in production and storage.
Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice-president at Veolia UK and Ireland, said: “The £4 billion hidden value of unutilised resources in these industrial sectors is not something we can ignore.
“Realising this value has a double windfall - it helps businesses manage their resources more efficiently, and generates new revenue streams.
“Adopting the innovative business models outlined in Imagine 2050 needs to happen now”, she added.
“Long-term planning, minimising waste and more effectively using water, energy and raw materials will help us meet the changing needs of a growing population in a sustainable way.”