Report: Between 60 to 80% of impacts on the planet come from household consumption

Between 60 to 80% of impacts on the planet come from household consumption, according to a new report from SUEZ.

As a major economy, the UK’s production and consumption has made it the fifth-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK says.

As the new UK government considers its priorities for the coming year, the resource management company says it has a chance to consider policy that can address this growing issue – helping to conserve energy and, ultimately, reduce household bills at a time of rising costs.

The “Stuff of Life” report, commissioned by SUEZ and conducted by Beasley Associates, sets out a roadmap to address what it calls the “issues caused by consumerism” – outlining interventions for businesses and the public sector to tackle over-consumption.

The report sets out a plan of the measures policy makers at local and national level can take to support people in reducing their consumption. Government policies that promote refills and reuse are an integral step to minimising excess waste.

These measures are already operating successfully across Europe, in France, Spain and Austria, where ‘refills’ in supermarkets are becoming commonplace, SUEZ says.

John Scanlon, CEO of SUEZ, said: “Our latest report highlights the role over-consumption has in negatively impacting our environment. We need to make a collective effort if we are to effectively make a difference.”

Eliminating unnecessary waste

The “buyerarchy of needs” as set out in the report

In addition to this, an extension of the single use plastic ban to other single use items, such as wrapping on fruit and vegetables, will reduce waste for businesses.

The UK government has banned plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, but SUEZ says its recent report “shines light” on why this policy must be expanded to other single use plastics if we are to successfully eliminate “unnecessary” waste.

With UK consumers buying more new clothes than any other European country, and throwing away over 1 million tonnes per year, businesses also hold responsibility when it comes to our consumption habits, the company says.

Within the report, SUEZ calls on businesses to review their business models to reduce “unnecessary over consumption” – for example mainstreaming alternative services, including subscription and rental options to reduce fast fashion.

The report highlights ways to help tackle overconsumption include:

  • Provide fiscal incentives to encourage reuse, repair and renovation
  • Set targets for percentage of reuse required and provide policy support to address high start-up costs
  • Work with licencing, trading standards and environmental health teams to identify barriers to reuse / refill schemes
  • Remove the best before dates on appropriate items to reduce food waste, with M&S and Waitrose already starting to scrap these dates

Mr Scanlon added: “It is not just the responsibility of the consumer, action from governments around the world is needed to ensure consumption-based emissions are included within climate targets.

“Businesses also hold significant responsibility when it comes to this growing issue and need to step up and update their models to reduce unnecessary consumption and waste.”

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