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Waste not, gain a lot

8 March, 2024

When people think about waste it’s often their own immediate waste footprint that first comes to mind – what goes in the household bin. But of course, companies create huge quantities of waste too. And the industrial waste market – think waste from sources such as construction & demolition, manufacturing, mining and agricultural waste – is not only vast, it is also growing 

This makes the findings of a recent study by the Global Waste Management Outlook particularly interesting. It projects that using a circular economy model, sustainable business practices, and full waste management could yield a net gain of 108.5 billion USD annually – and that’s just from municipal waste alone.  

So how can businesses leverage this as an opportunity to drive change? Well, we’ve been encouraged by a couple of recent examples of circularity in the business world. 

First up is IKEA, who have made the circular economy a centrepiece of their sustainability strategy. The latest manifestation of this is VÄXELBRUK – a collection of home furnishings made from recycled staff uniforms. While this might be particularly eye-catching, it is a small part of the whole. IKEA’s commitment also includes designing products for reuse, refurbishment, and recycling; exploring alternative materials; and offering circular services such as creating markets for second-hand items. 

We’re also impressed by Lancashire-based startup, Sustainability Yard. Their innovative platform takes the circular economy to the construction world. It enables businesses, builders and DIYers to buy, sell, give away and relocate unused construction materials. Users of the site also get access to information on the embodied carbon of materials diverted from landfill – useful for their ESG reporting. 

The global waste issue can often seem overwhelming, and while we know a vision for a circular economy is the answer, it often feels far from reality. So, let’s celebrate new models which put it into practice where we can.  

By Nia Vines

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