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CBI says government and business should work together to save resources

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), government and business interests need to work together to overcome the barriers that prevent the use of fewer resources and achieve greater efficiencies.

At the launch of its report entitled ‘Made to last: Creating a resource efficient economy’ earlier this week, the CBI said that businesses are increasingly looking to improve their resource efficiency in terms of both man-made and natural materials, as doing so offers them competitive advantage and reduces their dependence on supplies which can be volatile in price and availability.

At an event on resource security organised jointly with the Green Alliance and attended by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, the CBI’s Deputy Director-General, Neil Bentley, said, “The CBI has worked hard over a number of years to show leadership on climate change. We want to do the same with the much broader issue of resource efficiency. There’s a business case for acting, and a threat to our growth prospects if we don’t.” He went on, “Too many different government departments at too many different levels are coming up with their own ways of dealing with this problem. We’re looking to the Business Secretary and the EU Commissioner to give us the right policy framework. The CBI continues to believe you need to be green and grow. At the front of our mind should be how we can use this agenda to increase our competitiveness, deliver growth and ensure security of supplies well into the future. Framed correctly, environmental goals can help us achieve our economic goals.”

The CBI report argues that three steps are necessary to achieve a more resource efficient economy:

  1. Recognise that resource efficiency makes business and environmental sense and will be key to our future economy;
  2. Establish a shared set of indicators for resource efficiency before introducing targets; and
  3. Address policy and market risks to investment in resource efficient products and services

Also speaking at the event, Chief Executive of WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), Liz Goodwin, argued that produce reuse could hold the key to issues of resource security. She said that by pursuing the opportunities for reuse, the UK could lower its reliance on raw materials by as much as 20% by the year 2020. Her speech hinted at a shift from a focus on packaging to one on products and their lifecycles.

In the supply of custom-printed carrier bags, for example, the CBI and WRAP would no doubt recommend a shift towards longer-life bags such as those produced from cotton, canvas or non-woven material.

During his time at the podium, the European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, said the EC would be promoting eco-design next year within the EU. He stated, “If every company could afford to carry out a proper life-cycle costing of its operations and products, and consumers were properly informed, then waste could be prevented, products recycled and re-used. Many companies are already doing this, but there are many different standards across the European economy. A common approach across the EU would help break down these barriers and open up more opportunities for a truly European Single Market for green products. Public authorities could help by making their procurement decisions sustainable across the life-cycle.”

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