A new report by Veolia has stated that three business sectors in the UK are generating 13 million tonnes of waste, which could generate £4 billion of resource value.
Launching the document in London, the report finds that the manufacturing, pharmaceutical and chemical, and food and beverage sectors have a great financial incentive to re-use, recycle, or remanufacture waste.
The report also highlighted some of the many challenges that face the industries, citing population growth, pressure on carbon reductions, and technology advances, as some of the major hurdles that the industries would need to monetise waste streams effectively.
The paper explains that business models and operations can be redesigned by 2050 so that the loop within the circular economy is closed.
It also predicts that by generating energy from renewable sources and treating water as a valuable resource, business can become more self-sufficient and therefore more profitable.
Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice-president of Veolia UK and Ireland, said:
Adopting the innovative business models outlined in Imagine 2050 needs to happen now. 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.
“This is at the heart of the circular economy and in Veolia’s DNA.”
Even with the challenges into account, the manufacturing industry alone can benefit from £2.8 billion of hidden value in unused waste streams — simply by generating, using and recovering energy and water.
Businesses in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors are reported to have around £800 milion of hidden value in unutilised resources.
Research suggests that by 2050 waste materials will be tradable commodities with the potential of enabling 100 per cent recovery rates, utilising the potential of nanotechnology and 3D printing.
Dr Nick Voulvoulis, a paper contributor from Imperial College London said:
Meeting humanity’s rapidly growing consumption needs, with finite resources on a planet that is already under stress, requires more than greater resource efficiency.
“With three billion new middle class consumers anticipated by 2030, new business models must be explored if we are to continue to thrive.”
Read the paper itself here.