Insight into social sustainability
Local, regional and global businesses joined York academics at a workshop on circular economies.
Since the industrial revolution we have adopted a linear economy or a take-make-waste model. This system is no longer working - leading to social and environmental issues on a number of scales. The circular economy tackles this issue through designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems (Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
Representatives from a number of local, regional and global businesses joined University of York academics for a workshop to share learning and explore how their businesses could enhance their circular economy.
The workshop began with Nestlé, a multinational food and drink processing conglomerate, providing an insight into their food waste management strategy. Nestlé are taking a leading role in tackling the food waste issue through their work with the Waste and Resource Action Plan and taking the pledge to tackle food waste via the ‘Step up to the plate’ organised by Defra.
Attendees also heard about the adoption of the circular economy in the textile and apparel industry, the development of new plastics to address the waste issue, and the growth of the bioeconomy in Yorkshire.
The event closed with attendees developing an action plan for their business in preparation for a scenario that had been generated for 2030 based, for example, on the legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions for the UK by 2050; Met Office climate modelling; and the estimated six years of residual landfill space in the UK.
Attendees identified a range of challenges they anticipated, together with potential solutions that aimed to combine economic benefits with environmental improvements. Attendees were really engaged on the day and a number of partnerships have been formed to explore future developments.