London celebrated Circular Economy Week to help combat climate emergency

ReLondon is set to convene leaders and innovators from across the capital and beyond for the fourth Circular Economy Week (#CEweekLDN), which took place 14th – 18th June. The week showcased some of London’s most promising circular economy approaches to inspire action and encourage organisations and individuals to waste less and reuse, repair, share and recycle more. The aim is to promote polices, practices and behaviours that can accelerate the growth of the circular economy and place it firmly on the agenda for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

Almost half (45%) of climate-changing emissions currently come from the global management of land and the production of goods and food. Tackling these emissions requires a shift to a circular economy, which keeps materials and resources in use for as long as possible. London, a global city of nine million people, has a real opportunity to lead this pioneering transformation – one which is particularly relevant and urgent this year as the UK hosts COP26 in Glasgow in November.

As well as reducing carbon emissions, the circular economy can help to shorten supply chains, reduce vulnerability to market shocks like COVID-19, support the creation of higher quality jobs and promote more connected communities. In London alone, transitioning to a circular economy could achieve a 60% reduction in the city’s waste and by 2036 could provide £7bn-worth of benefits every year in the sectors of built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics.

ReLondon recently polled 300 senior decision makers in local authorities and SMEs across England, with the results highlighting the opportunity to improve circular economy understanding and action:

  • 74% of respondents agreed there has never been a more important time for collaboration between sectors to tackle the climate crisis
  • 31% are not currently working with partners in their supply chains to reduce the waste created through their systems – while 24% weren’t confident that their organisation even has robust recycling practices in place
  • 52% said that having a greater understanding of how to work with partners involved in the circular economy would benefit them

Wayne Hubbard, CEO of ReLondon, said: “This is a critical year for climate action – but the circular economy needs to be much higher on the agenda, with London leading the way. A circular economy will help to deliver the drastic reductions in carbon emissions we need. Yet despite the many benefits of a circular economy, it is often not part of discussions on tackling the climate crisis. This has to change: a just transition to a circular economy is an essential means by which we can prevent dangerous global heating.

“And, with their high concentrations of people and stuff, cities are engine rooms for the circular economy. A growing number of organisations and individuals are already taking the lead in London and in cities across the globe, which is why collaborations like Circular Economy Week are vital to raise awareness and inspire action. Together we must strive for a world without waste, where the way we make, consume and dispose of stuff actively tackles the climate crisis and protects our planet.”

Mike Berners-Lee added: “The role of consumption is an essential part of COP26. The global response to the climate emergency involves rethinking how we consume; the reworking of production systems from linear to circular; how we govern; and raising awareness of the implications of all forms of consumption.”

Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, said: “In the year of COP26 and as we embark on a green recovery from COVID-19, it has never been more important to focus on how we use resources sustainably.

“The Mayor has committed to making London a zero carbon city by 2030 and his Green New Deal supports projects and creates jobs that equip Londoners and businesses to benefit from the opportunities presented by the transition to a zero-carbon future. The London Plan includes a world-first requirement for all large-scale developments to incorporate a circular economy statement in their planning submission and we have been working closely with boroughs to boost recycling and cut waste.

“Circular Economy Week is a great showcase for ideas that promote a resource efficient future, and an important reminder of the need to embed circular economy principles into our way of life.”