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Over 200,000 waste-related jobs could be needed, reveals study published yesterday
Over 200,000 new jobs could be needed across Britain from the continued development of resource efficient activity to 2030, such as recycling, reuse and remanufacturing, according to a study by WRAP and Green Alliance.
The report 'Employment and the circular economy: job creation in a more resource efficient Britain', indicates that development of resource efficiency, unlike other industrial transitions, requires more labour.
Significantly, regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and West Midlands, could see the greatest impact in job creation, especially among low to mid skilled occupations where job losses are projected for the future.
On the current development path the 2030 the sector could:
- require an extra 205,000 jobs
- reduce unemployment by around 54,000
- offset 11% of future job losses in skilled employment
A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and reusing products and materials.
Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled.
Service models, which could include product maintenance and take back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.
Walter R. Stahel, originator of the circular economy concept, explains:
"A circular economy will directly create numerous jobs with a broad diversity of skills at local and regional level, and give rise to new SMEs exploiting opportunities in the local loops.
"In addition, a circular economy will create skilled jobs to develop the innovative processes and technologies needed 'to most profitably close the loops', innovations which can be sold abroad."
Matthew Spencer, Director, Green Alliance, says of the study's findings:
"At a time when many are worried about where jobs will come from in future, it is a tantalising prospect to have a sector which offers a wide range of new jobs right across the country, especially in regions with high unemployment. To be able to stimulate these new jobs in remanufacturing and reuse we will need government to play its part in setting higher standards for product and resource recovery.
"The biggest opportunity to do that is in the EU circular economy package which is being renegotiated this year, but the UK will have to become an active champion of higher ambition or we could end up with no new policy drivers for investment."
Professor Stephen Machin, UCL adds:
"Creating jobs with decent pay as innovative technologies evolve is a challenge given the UK's traditional difficulties in generating good jobs for workers with low and intermediate skills. This report emphasises the need for this kind of job creation especially given the decline in jobs in the middle tier of the labour market."
WRAP CEO, Liz Goodwin, says:
"We've long been talking about the benefits of the resource efficiency agenda, working with businesses and turning ideas into action. But this report is the first of its kind that pinpoints exactly who, what and where could benefit from the implementation of the circular economy. This signals a major new opportunity for Britain's economy, and could deliver jobs where they're needed the most."
22nd January 2015