Almost 50,000 Yorkshire jobs can be created if Government prioritises reuse and recycling, think tank claims

Almost 50,000 new jobs could be created in Yorkshire by 2035 if the Government incentivises businesses to reuse, recycle and remanufacture old products instead of throwing them away, a think tank claims.

Green Alliance has published a report which urges the Government to expand the circular economy - where products and resources are kept in use at their highest value for as long as possible - to create jobs, drive economic growth and cut emissions.

Green Alliance has published a report which urges the Government to expand the circular economy - where products and resources are kept in use at their highest value for as long as possible - to create jobs, drive economic growth and cut emissions.

The report states this approach could create 49,000 jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber over 14 years, with 35,000 in remanufacturing.

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It adds: “The current approach is not only unsustainable, driving carbon emissions and damaging the environment, it also holds back the economy. Products and materials are discarded before the end of their lifetimes, wasting both economic value and embedded carbon.”

Scarborough-based business SeaGrown is Britain’s first large-scale offshore seaweed farm

The Green Alliance’s report said the type of roles created from expanding the circular economy include repairers who fix electronics and machinery, remanufacturers, recycling operatives and biorefinery experts.

It states this would benefit places like Yorkshire which are traditionally more reliant on manufacturing, as jobs are now being lost to automation and offshoring.

If the UK’s circular economy continues to develop at the current rate, Green Alliance projects that only 40,000 new jobs will be created by 2035.

It says the Government should set a target for the UK to halve its resource use by 2050, set up a £400m starter fund to stimulate the circular economy, and retrain workers in declining industries.

A Government spokesman said: "Yorkshire is one of the many areas benefitting from our plan to drive a green industrial revolution, and that extends to creating thousands of green jobs across the region and the wider UK, while ensuring British workers have the skills to fill them.

“The Government is taking wide ranging action to reduce amount of materials and packaging we use and move towards a circular economy. Through our major waste reforms, we will boost recycling, reduce waste and incentivise the use of more sustainable materials.”

York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been encouraging local companies to transition to the circular economy and head of policy Mark Goldstone said it will “undoubtedly” create business and employment opportunities as a growing number of customers are looking to buy environmentally friendly products.

“There is increasing recognition from businesses about the need to address their environmental impact, whether this is more efficient use of resources or adoption of ambitions which enable the principles contained within circular economy strategies to flourish," he said.

"Given the urgency needed to address climate emergency and environmental sustainability concerns it is great to see North Yorkshire at the forefront, with its Circular Yorkshire campaign driving ambitions to be the UK’s first carbon negative region.”

Katie Thomas, the LEP’s senior strategy manager, said: “The circular economy can provide substantial benefits for businesses in terms of reducing costs, developing new revenue streams and strengthening business resilience.

“However, we are seeing a number of barriers currently preventing businesses from moving towards circular business models, from lack of understanding and awareness to difficulty accessing finance and regulatory barriers.”

She added: “There is a critical role here for Local Enterprise Partnerships to coordinate local, place-based circular economy action.”

SeaGrown, Britain’s first large-scale offshore seaweed farm based in Scarborough, has adopted and now actively promotes circular economy practices.

Operations director Wave Crookes said: "The seaweed we grow enhances the marine environment by releasing oxygen into the water and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

"What's more, the seaweed can then be used as a sustainable feedstock for a number of innovative products such as biodegradable plastics and soil enhancers as well as for creating nutritious foods. We believe that sustainable and circular approaches are essential to slow down climate change and prevent irreversible damage to our environment."