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Circular economy 'offers a world of opportunity for green offices'

Circular economy 'offers a world of opportunity for green offices'

Circular economy 'offers a world of opportunity for green offices'

The circular economy offers a "world of opportunity" for UK businesses that want to save money, improve their efficiency and help the environment through better office practices.

That's according to company-led charity Business in the Community (BITC), which has launched a new initiative designed to highlight the benefits of the circular economy in the workplace.

The circular economy is based on the idea of keeping resources in circulation for as long as possible and gaining maximum value from materials during their lifespan, after which they are recovered and recycled back into the system.

According to BITC - whose new initiative is backed by major private businesses including Lloyds Banking Group and JLL - this approach could be vital to reducing the estimated £15 billion in waste costs that are incurred by the private sector.

One of the key principles behind the project is that the idea of the circular economy can be brought into the mainstream by focusing on something that is a common element of practically all industries: office space.

Andrew Bester, chair of BITC's circular economy taskforce and chief executive of commercial banking at Lloyds, discussed the idea at a launch event at JLL's offices in London, edie.net reported.

He said there is substantial scope for British firms to "rethink the way we go about business, redefining products and services to design out waste". He also acknowledged that the circular economy is a big idea and it can be difficult for companies to know where to begin.

"There is a real danger that we invest lots of energy in thinking and talking, and don't get on with the doing," Mr Bester said.

"The 'office' or 'workplace' seems an ideal place to start. We all have offices, so it's a no-brainer, with many areas we can look at - building design, leasing rather than purchasing equipment, reducing waste and seeking opportunities to create jobs and wider social value through reuse and recycling activities."

Some of the companies backing BITC's initiative have already enjoyed success with their circular economy efforts, including Lloyds, which has moved beyond a target to divert 80 per cent of waste away from landfill by 2020. This is partly thanks to a project that repurposed approximately 1,000 pieces of furniture.

Firms that want to get involved and introduce some circular economy principles of their own will be able to access a free online resource outlining the waste management methods used by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

After conducting a thorough examination of its various waste streams, the professional services firm achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status in 2012. It has saved approximately £25 million through reduced paper and energy consumption, while refurbishing and reselling IT assets has generated revenue of more than £500,000 a year for the company.

Bridget Jackson, head of corporate sustainability at PwC, commented that it's "totally feasible" for every business to "conserve and do more with materials".

Firms that want to be environmentally responsible should also look into the green credentials of their external suppliers and service partners to ensure they meet certain standards.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of iStock/BsWei