Cheshire thinks that it is important to move forward and use Brexit as a catalyst for greater action by business to establish the UK as a global center of innovative solutions leading towards a zero-carbon economy.
The imperative to tackle environmental challenges can now come by a recognition from business that it has a key role to play to improve resource management, restore damaged ecosystems and tackle climate change to create a net positive impact on the planet, he said.
There have been intensified debates in recent months on how to address environmental challenges, said Cheshire, adding that we need to move beyond theorising and take practical action which tackles economic, social and environmental challenges in a joined-up way.
He added that circular economy principles are a radical way of rethinking waste and turning it into wealth by “closing the loop” of product life-cycles, increasing recycling and finding ways to develop new products and services that keep resources circulating around the economy.
There is evidence that adopting these principles can boost competitiveness, drive economic growth and create new jobs. There is vast potential as research suggest that the circular economy is set to be worth €500 billion by 2025.
Some forward-thinking businesses are adopting these principals and turning them into practical solutions that make economic sense and help to ensure the long-term sustainability of their businesses.
For example, PwC has implemented a range of initiatives including offering compostable coffee cups, offering a take-back service for uniforms worn by suppliers in their offices and refurbishing old computers. These initiatives have helped generate additional revenue of more than £500,000 per year.
A circular economy will create employment and also provide opportunities to nurture small enterprises. Asda, for example, helps suppliers find new ways to use resources more efficiently. Asda’s suppliers saved over £4 million in a year.
Business in the Community is helping business to achieve the kind of smart growth which will underpin much wider economic and social change, said Cheshire. He said that he is pleased to be working with the charity to launch a Circular Economy Taskforce. The taskforce will bring together businesses including PwC, Wallgreens Boots Alliance, Anglian Water, Asda, Saint Gobain, Viridor and Interserve to tackle environmental challenges.