In the face of climate change and growing resource scarcity, there is an urgent need to move away from conventional production models. Our latest report Mapping Circular Economy Activity in the UK was developed in response to interest from Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council. Although sometimes underplayed in the UK, Peterborough has a long history in promoting, supporting and innovating in, environmental and sustainable initiatives. The city has an internationally renowned city-wide circular economy initiative that is run through their Future Peterborough programme. The knowledge and expertise they have developed through this programme have been shared at international conferences in Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland as well as further afield in Dubai and Taiwan.
In the report, we examine the role that circular economy (CE) plays across different regions. Rather than depend on linear and extractive processes, circular economy encourages repair, reuse, and regeneration. As resource productivity is maximized, waste streams are redirected, pushing the economy towards a closed-loop, zero waste system. This is further coupled with a transition to renewable energy, allowing the circular economy concept to redefine growth and build economic, natural, and social capital.
Through it's various national and international commitments, the UK is proving itself to be a leader in mitigating climate change and its worst effects. The 2018 Industrial Strategy frames these challenges as an opportunity, listing Clean Growth as one of its Grand Challenges. Because of its potential to promote innovation and collaboration, the circular economy is specifically put forward as a constructive approach to promoting economic growth while reducing our impact on the natural environment. Though Innovate UK’s R&D investments into circular economy activities began in 2009, the momentum behind the concept continues to grow, with more than £360 million invested between 2014 and 2018.