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How to be circular

Date: 12/12/2013 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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LRS and Burges Salmon recently produced a report giving practical advice on how companies can become more resource efficient

At a recent event in London, Conservative MP Laura Sandys was the keynote speaker to mark the launch of a report A Practical Path to Resource Efficiency from consultancy LRS and law firm Burges Salmon.

With Laura Sandys chairing the Conservative’s 2020: Productivity and Efficiency Commission that is due to report its findings in January, she was able to share recommendations that her commission will report on that chime with the ideas in the LRS and Burges Salmon document.

One of the Commission’s recommendations is likely to be that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should be given responsibility for resource and recycling policy rather than the current Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Another recommendation is the creation of a ‘Remade in Britain’ campaign to showcase use of secondary materials and recycling in the UK economy. A unit could be created in BIS with responsibility to developing resource efficient business around this theme.

As the report from LRS and Burges Salmon shows, while sustainability has been on the board agenda for forward thinking businesses for some years, even in the current difficult economic climate, sustainable resource use is gaining traction. Leading organisations are increasingly asking themselves how they can make better use of resources.

Concepts such as the circular economy, closed loop and cradle to cradle are going beyond buzzwords to essential concepts that major businesses are already implementing.

But there are still many that haven’t begun that journey and the practical guide from LRS and Burgess Salmon is aimed at helping them begin the process, while also giving ideas to those that are further along.

“Resource efficiency makes good business sense,” says LRS Consultancy managing director Dee Moloney.

“Businesses that are looking to the future should work with their supply chain partners now to understand their collective risks and opportunities and take actions to ensure they remain economically, environmentally and socially sustainable in tough economic times. Fully circular or closed loop supply chains are often seen as the model in terms of resource efficiency.

“However, in many cases less complex and lower cost approaches to improving resource efficiency can deliver huge benefits across the supply chain within relatively short timeframes.

“We wanted to produce a document that responds to our clients’ need to be able to access practical guidance on how to increase resource efficiency and protect themselves from resource related supply chain risks.

“We recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and have tried to demonstrate the importance of a range of approaches such as systems thinking, partnership, corporate leadership and good business practice.”

A recent study from WRAP found that across the European Union, there could be £330 billion economic growth potential from resource efficiency in just the next seven years.

However, to achieve these benefits, companies will need to look beyond internal success stories such as lightweighting, recycling, product backhauling and energy efficiencies.

As a result of this, inefficiencies can be transferred between organisations and companies in the supply chain.

Or opportunities to develop additional revenue streams from selling manufacturing by-products or off-cuts can go unnoticed.

Although the report notes that fully circular or closed loop supply chains are often seen as the ideal model, they are only applicable in certain circumstances.

In many cases, less complex and lower cost approaches to improving resource efficiency can deliver huge benefits across the supply chain within relatively short timeframes.

Key to creating a more resource efficient business community within the UK is the ability to move away from traditional material and energy intensive supply chains.

It is about adapting and adopting supply chain models, where the focus on resource efficiency extends well outside an organisation’s four walls, where links between the various elements of the supply chain are much tighter and where waste is seen as a valuable resource rather than something to dispose of as cheaply as possible.

In an increasingly resource constrained world, resource efficiency is no longer just about minimising production waste and saving money.

It is about raw material strategies, understanding which materials you use to manufacture your products and where these materials come from.

And it is about product stewardship and what happens to your products once the consumer has finished with them.

The best place to start to develop and improve on resource efficiency is to focus on internal performance and then look to work more collaboratively with supply chain partners.

The first step to improving and embedding resource efficiency should be to understand current performance, define a future aspiration and then to map a path between the two.

Burges Salmon partner Nick Churchward adds: “At Burges Salmon and LRS, we believe that the efficient use of materials and energy is fundamental to helping organisations respond to today’s market challenges, such as maintaining profitability, ensuring supply chain resiliance and maximising the environmental and social sustainability of operation.”

To find out more about the report and to download it, visit:

www.lrsconsultancy.com

 

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