A new study, undertaken jointly by WRAP and the Green Alliance, shows that improving resource efficiency can make a “valuable contribution” to improving Britain’s labour market situation.
The study suggests that although unemployment is now falling, the risk of being out of work is higher in some regions and for some types of occupations. While Britain has significantly increased its resource efficiency in recent years, supply risks in an increasingly competitive global economy means the UK needs to get better at using natural resources.
It says one route to improving resource efficiency is to develop a circular economy, which involves keeping products and resources in use for as long as possible through recovery, reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling.
Green Alliance – “… if Britain continues to develop its resource efficiency, the circular economy sector will create net jobs in regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and West Midlands, and among low to mid skilled occupations, where a higher rate of job losses are projected for the future”
According to the report, if the UK remains on the path to a circular economy, by 2030 it could create over 205,000 jobs, reduce unemployment by circa 54,000 and offset 11 percent of future losses in skilled employment.
Alternatively, under a transformational scenario where there was a more extensive expansion of circular economy activities, by 2030 the sector could create over half a million jobs, reduce unemployment by over 100,000 and potentially offset around 18 percent of the expected future losses in skilled employment.
Green Alliance stated: “This infographic demonstrates the key messages from recent research by lead economists at Green Alliance and WRAP showing that, if Britain continues to develop its resource efficiency, the circular economy sector will create net jobs in regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and West Midlands, and among low to mid skilled occupations, where a higher rate of job losses are projected for the future.”
In addition to protecting the environment, this potentially offers substantial economic benefits, including greater economic stability through increased resource security and new business and employment opportunities from an expanding industrial sector.
Significantly, the study finds that regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and the West Midlands, could see the greatest impact on job creation, especially among low to mid-skilled occupations where job losses are projected for the future.
Circular Economy In The UK
Last week Green Alliance published a report that identified how Scotland can move toward a more circular economy, by identifying potential opportunities in three exemplar sectors where the country is well positioned to do so. (See CIWM Journal Online story)
Working with businesses in the UK’s Circular Economy Task Force, Green Alliance’s analysis shows how Scotland could help to make its economy more circular, by assessing potential opportunities in three exemplar sectors, and developing these into a wider suite of lessons for government as a whole.
Those sectors are oil and gas, food and drink and the finance sector.
The UK is currently waiting to for the European Commission to publish plans to promote a circular economy.
Circular economy plans set out by former Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik were axed late last year, with the Commission claiming that they would not have delivered the results needed in their current form.
The Commission says new, more ambitious plans to promote a circular economy will be put in place by the end of 2015. (See CIWM Journal Online story)