From adversity we will find opportunity!
Let’s start by recognising the obvious – 2020 has been a pretty hard year for us all. It’s going to take time to recover the momentum that we had at the beginning of 2020, but Government seems set to drive meaningful environmental change.
I believe that we are reaching a tipping point where the pieces of the sustainability jigsaw are coming together. There has undoubtably been a shift in social attitude towards the environment which I feel has been accelerated as a result of COVID19. We are fortunate to have in place most of what is needed in terms of policy, regulation and the eagerly awaited Environment Bill this December. Perhaps most exciting is the political appetite to mandate change in business behaviour to meet our carbon, climate change and social justice obligations.
With the economy and employment looking set to dominate the political horizon, it feels like the right time to push forward with a broader carbon tax, very much like the landfill tax escalator did, which should create a level playing field for all businesses. This will promote more sustainable commercial decisions whilst also generating much needed public funds for the Government. These could in turn be used to support the growth of Net-Zero green business initiatives.
Technology has its role to play within these business decisions, not only in terms of waste processing but in the provision of accurate data to enable informed decision making. Reconomy’s Zero Wasteometer allows businesses to evaluate the carbon equivalence and climate impacts (Scope3) of their waste performance (and supply chain) in a broad yet relatively simple manner. This information can then be used to promote efficiencies and drive investment with a common language.
There can be no denying the huge impact that Covid restrictions have had on businesses with reduced capacities and customer behaviour changes and patterns. Despite this, there is still the opportunity for us to harness the commercial and reputational benefits of a green recovery.
I would urge businesses to take this opportunity to review their overall waste management processes. There are almost certainly ways to reduce the amount of waste being produced and better manage what cannot be avoided. It is generally accepted that businesses can save up to 1% of their turnover through waste minimisation initiatives. This will go straight to your bottom line whilst also improving your Zero Waste aspirations. We have seen examples of this through our own shopping experiences at home, with the introduction of no packaging aisles directly reducing waste in stores and at home. This simple concept also limits exposure to other costs such as the looming plastic packaging tax and Extended Producer Responsibility, full net cost recovery and the possibility of a carbon tax. Improved management practices help mitigate these risks, promote adoption and eliminate wasted resources – further reducing costs.
Covid-19 highlighted the vulnerability of many of our supply chains with an over reliance on a small number of producers and markets. This reinforces the business case for the creation of closed loop solutions, securing supply and bolstering our local economies and networks.
Looking forward, I believe that ‘from adversity we will find opportunity’. The economic value of a green recovery will force more sustainable business practices across the board. For this to happen we must ensure the fiscal mechanisms employed are proportionate and fair, whilst fostering a culture of transparency, openness, and equality.
Reconomy are here to help you through these difficult times and we would be pleased to be a part of your future decision making processes.
Head of Sustainability (Business and Industry) – Reconomy