Leading European Businesses are endorsing new business models that provide greater resource productivity and decrease waste.
This same legislation could save EU businesses £600 billion a year and reduce greenhouse emissions by as much as 4%.
A report from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) stated that for these models to work and increase potential economic benefits, it is crucial that European Member States introduce policies to support and quicken the transition.
The fourteen companies interviewed for the report are altering the way they work: producing products with less materials that last longer, adopting bio-based inputs and reusing or recycling waste.
The report stated that these actions were needed as a response to a decline of natural resources, increasing supply chain vulnerability and a requirement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and environmental impacts.
Those that followed this path would enjoy cost savings, greater reputation and consumer loyalty, it said.
The report highlighted changes already made by a number of companies such as Phillips lighting which is focusing on selling a function, level or performance instead of a product, in order to reduce input and waste and motivate resource efficiency.
Others are investing in ‘industrial symbiosis’, such as ACCIONA’s renewable electricity by-products that were previously sent to landfill but are now sold as fertilizer additives, saving £1.4 million each year.
The EU Commission calculated that waste prevention, eco-design and other measures could gather net savings of £600 billion or an 8% annual turnover for businesses in the EU.
However, there are some difficulties: overly restrictive policies, demand and knowledge by consumers and shifting the focus from waste to resources.
Public Policy and Government Affairs manager for 3M Natasa Sbrizaj said: “We would like the EU and its Member States to be more progressive and less voluntary in their approach if public procurement is to really bite across the EU. Additionally, if the EU is serious about driving a circular economy, it needs to provide legislation that prompts and enables companies to change current behaviour.”
Companies that were interviewed agreed on the necessity for efficient EU policies. This included: unified regulations on waste, targeted tax measures for disposable items, more end of life landfill and relevant policies to boost the secondary materials market.