News: Transition to a far more resource efficient economy is underway
The driver for change is coming from small innovative businesses that wish to break up wasteful and inefficient habits for improved waste prevention
Monday, 27th January 2014
The Waste Prevention Programme for England published on 11th December describes what Defra plans to do in England. The sound of disappointed expectations is surely misplaced. Instead, there are many reasons to applaud what is happening in business to deliver on the promise of wastes prevention. The driver for change is coming from small innovative businesses that wish to break up the wasteful and inefficient habits of so many incumbents. To get more of this activity, to clear the path for these disruptive and troublesome businesses is a BIS agenda. Defra, at best, play the part of a linesman in this larger game. We shouldnt expect the linesman to do much more than raise a flag from time to time. David Fitzsimons of Oakdene Hollins argues that it is business, not Defra, that will deliver effective waste prevention. Last year Oakdene Hollins reviewed over 900 articles before delivering a set of summary reports on business wastes prevention (Business Waste Prevention Evidence Review: Executive Summary). The culmination of that work was a simple diagram (see below) inviting organisations to position themselves in one of four categories of wastes prevention tactic. And then to ask whether they have an ambition to be in another less wasteful and higher value category. Apart from a few very large businesses such as Rolls Royce and Caterpillar, the majority of companies in the most ambitious category are smaller businesses, usually managed by people who want to break up what today represents business as usual. They are using new technology to remove parts of existing value chains and to develop new business models often selling existing products as services and with far fewer materials. Working with these companies, clearing away barriers to their development, is a very small part of Defras remit. The TSB (Technology Strategy Board) is doing far more to help these changes than Defra; and look north to Scotland where Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland work together, these are examples from which we can take heart. The transition to a far more resource efficient economy is underway. The question is not what else Defra could or should be doing in England, rather what can BIS do to help the many disruptive small businesses upon whom we will depend if waste prevention is to mean something more than a little bit more recycling and a few less plastic bags.