A circular economy is built on three design principles: reduce waste and pollution, circulate high-value goods and resources, and renew nature. Waste is becoming a major concern that transcends local and regional boundaries. It has evolved into a worldwide issue, with rising public health, environmental, social, and economic repercussions. The World Bank Group is a leader in addressing the challenge of municipal solid waste, but investments are low compared to other sectors, and the drive toward the long-term solution of a circular economy is not yet an overarching goal.
The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33% of that not managed in an environmentally safe manner. The United Kingdom has improved in its waste management since the last report in 2019. It moved from 17th to 21st place as it is producing a lower volume of waste (down from 468kg per capita in 2019, to 463kg per capita in 2022). Furthermore, less waste is ending up in landfills: in 2019, 109kg per capita of waste in the UK was sent to landfills, and in 2022 that reduced to 69kg per capita.
Addressing the challenge
Waste management is vital because it protects the environment from the damaging effects of waste’s inorganic and biodegradable components. Waste can be recycled if it is collected and managed properly. Waste materials such as plastic, glass, and paper may be separated into different columns and processed to create new goods, saving natural resources. Furthermore, when these materials are not recycled, they frequently end up in landfills or oceans, endangering human health and marine life. In most parts of the world, sewage treatment is inadequate, resulting in eutrophication and beach closures. Each year, an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic wind up in the seas, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
There is a pressing need to move away from the traditional linear economy and toward broadly recognised sustainable alternatives such as waste hierarchy and circular economy solutions. Priority is given to waste avoidance, reuse, recycling, and recovery before disposal under a waste hierarchy strategy. A circular economy advocates for developing goods to decrease waste, utilising products and resources for as long as feasible, and recycling materials from end-of-life items back into the economy to close the loop between extraction, production, and disposal.
Organisations must reduce the environmental effect of their entire supply chain to build more environmentally conscious industries. This will necessitate a holistic approach to Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) by focusing on two critical areas: reducing the indirect impact produced by upstream and downstream operations, and re-evaluating product design to improve the effectiveness of present sustainability measures. If implemented at an industry level, these initiatives will drastically reduce global waste.
Be the change that you wish to see
The UK government has laid out ambitions to become a world leader in recycling and has produced a ‘Resources and Waste Strategy,’ explicitly describing a twenty-five-year environment plan in which the government has vowed to leave the environment in better shape for the following generation. This will assist us in transitioning from the outdated, inefficient linear economic model of ‘Take, Make, Use, and Throw’ to the more sustainable model of ‘A Circular Economy,’ in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
This transformation is already underway. Improving our efficiency and procedures in this business will be critical to meeting the government’s aim of 50% recycled waste, safeguarding the future quality of life for the next generation. There will also be a stronger emphasis on industrial information, such as what we can and cannot recycle. According to Letsrecycle.com, the current gap between the best and worst performing UK local authorities in terms of household garbage recycled is 47.9%. This is a huge chance for the UK to revolutionise how we think about and manage waste, and we must all challenge ourselves as individuals and businesses to be a part of the new circular economy.
The Ecoserv Way
Ecoserv Group has over 25 years of expertise, offering cost-effective waste management to businesses and educational institutions throughout the United Kingdom, including London, Bristol, and Cambridge. We have the resources and knowledge to provide a wide range of waste management services for private and public sector businesses in education, medical and health care, offices and commercial buildings, car dealerships, fitness and leisure, industrial, retail, and film productions, including food waste, clinical waste, confidential waste (shredding), general waste, dry recycling, and specialist waste. Ecoserv Group’s ecological, cost-effective, and personalised waste management services are used by over 600 enterprises in the UK.
Dees Maharaj – Group CSO