How Yorkshire plans to create an environmental economic revolution

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Business leaders in Yorkshire are today launching a UK-first system to eliminate waste and foster an economic model that encourages a continual use of resources.

York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER LEP) are part of a consortium of organisations and businesses, leading a drive to what they call a “circular economy”

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“Circular Yorkshire” is understood to the first model of its kind launched in the country and the consortia behind it believe it will be a key driver in the UK achieving its targets of becoming a carbon neutral nation by 2050.

The model aims to ditch the current linear economic model of “take, make and dispose” and instead transition to a circular model in which all waste and resources have value.

The Circular Yorkshire campaign will run throughout November and brings together businesses, organisations and places, to raise awareness of the plan and encourage sharing of the financial benefits and positive environmental impacts that circular practices can invoke.

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A key platform of the plan will concern exploiting the interdependencies between rural and urban areas and develop interventions that create collaboration and sustainability.

Sue Jefferson, YNYER LEP Business Board Member and Chair of the YNYER LEP Circular Economy Steering group, says the benefits of the transformation will be far reaching and provide a “win-win” for the nation’s economy.

“The business benefits of a circular economy are significant, with increased resource efficiency, productivity and competitiveness bringing cost savings and opportunities for additional revenue streams.

“With much circular economy technical expertise already based in our region, we can leverage this at pace, offer solutions to our region’s businesses and communities and establish our region as the leaders in delivery of circular economy excellence, with the broader benefits that will bring.

“The circular economy provides a win-win, also enabling us to take climate action. Whilst the world has woken up to a climate emergency and the UK Government has set the target to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, urgent action is needed. Local action will play an essential part in reaching these targets. Indeed many local areas across our region have accelerated those targets to be achieved by 2030.

“We know that businesses are keen to reduce environmental impact. We also know that they have a need to build resilience and competitiveness. We’ve identified six circular economy opportunities that businesses, organisations and places can benefit from, and collectively we can all move towards a circular economy for Yorkshire that is competitive, resilient and carbon-neutral.”

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The Circular Yorkshire campaign has gathered case studies from 20 Yorkshire businesses, large and small that help to bring to life its objectives.

It is citing the example of Toast Ale, a company which turns surplus fresh bread into beer in East Yorkshire. In four years they’ve diverted 44 tonnes of bread from food waste and donated £25,000 to food sustainability charity Feedback.

Elsewhere Cleveland Steel has built a warehouse using a recycled frame and saved around 1,500 tonnes of carbon and about £1 million.

And Techbuyer, which operates in the e-waste market, was identified in The Sunday Times as one of the UK’s fastest-growing companies and refurbishes and resells IT hardware.