Britain: Over 200,000 jobs could be needed by a growing circular economy

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Clotheschecking (Foto: IGC / Axion)

Banbury, UK — Over 200,000 new jobs could be needed across Britain from the continued development of resource efficient activity to 2030, such as recycling, reuse and remanufacturing, according to a study by WRAP and Green Alliance. The report „Employment and the circular economy: job creation in a more resource efficient Britain“ indicates that development of resource efficiency, unlike other industrial transitions, requires more labour.

Significantly, regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and West Midlands could see the greatest impact in job creation, especially among low to mid skilled occupations where job losses are projected for the future. On the current development path the 2030 the sector could require an extra 205,000 jobs, reduce unemployment by around 54,000 and offset 11 per cent of future job losses in skilled employment

Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled. Service models, which could include product maintenance and take back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.

Walter R. Stahel, originator of the circular economy concept, announced: “A circular economy will directly create numerous jobs with a broad diversity of skills at local and regional level, and give rise to new SMEs exploiting opportunities in the local loops. In addition, a circular economy will create skilled jobs to develop the innovative processes and technologies needed ‚to most profitably close the loop‘, innovations which can be sold abroad.”

Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP said: “We’ve long been talking about the benefits of the resource efficiency agenda, working with businesses and turning ideas into action. But this report is the first of its kind that pinpoints exactly who, what and where could benefit from the implementation of the circular economy. This signals a major new opportunity for Britain’s economy, and could deliver jobs where they’re needed the most.”

Matthew Spencer, Director, Green Alliance added: “At a time when many are worried about where jobs will come from in future, it is a tantalising prospect to have a sector which offers a wide range of new jobs right across the country, especially in regions with high unemployment. To be able to stimulate these new jobs in remanufacturing and reuse we will need government to play its part in setting higher standards for product and resource recovery. The biggest opportunity to do that is in the EU circular economy package which is being renegotiated this year, but the UK will have to become an active champion of higher ambition or we could end up with no new policy drivers for investment.”

The report is available under wrapcymru.org.uk.

Source: Waste Action & Resources Programme (WRAP)

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