The phrase “Circular Economy” has been drifting in the consciousness of the UK for some time, normally attributed to the trend in UpCycling and Reclaim projects. However, with new standard BS8001 now in the works Circular Economy is about to become more than just a buzzword.
To understand why this standard is going to be a major player in our economy, we must first understand what it is. The title itself gives a fairly clear picture: an economy that continuously cycles around. The Industrial Revolution provided us with many things and without doubt made us who we are today, but it has also started a precedent which now threatens our future as a major player in the global economy and as a healthy (and wealthy) country. The rapid use of raw materials and unthinking destruction of “waste” items continues to be the basis of our economy, but we are running out of both raw materials and places to dispose of our waste.
Circular Economy describes a way of thinking in which items that are no longer in use by one party may be reused, adapted or re-made into something else; a whole new lease of life with absolutely minimal waste. This not only makes use of the materials we have already used once, but gives the opportunity of more skilled-labour jobs and more items we can offer to the global market. At current we import over 70% of the products and services that we use; many of these are things that we could, in all honesty, find a way to internalise and export. Back in 2010 we were warned that the UK would run out of landfill sites by 2020. We are now just 3 years from that date, and despite some major targets and restrictions being put in place we are still heading for a dire situation.
With the current situation of Brexit, our Government is rather occupied elsewhere and the majority of its attention is directed to getting the UK through this transition as smoothly as possible. For this reason, this particular change must be business driven and BS8001 is the key.
However, we need to move fast. Parts of the USA have already been putting Circular Economy plans into place, alongside fast-moving countries such as Japan, Korea and China. We are also exporting (at cost) all the key ingredients for RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel), which other countries are using to create bio-fuel for much cheaper, then selling on at profit. Why are we paying to send away our own materials instead of using them to create a commodity that will filter back into the economy?
Consider those websites we use to sell on goods we no longer want to other people in our area who can make use of them; imagine this process on a vast scale of not just furniture and electrical goods, but clean energy and building materials. Herein lies our opportunity to future-proof our economy and environment.
The draft of BS8001 is available for public consultation until 15th January 2017 (http://drafts.bsigroup.com/Home/Details/59265 ) with finalised publication expected in May 2017.
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