Circular Economy

Innovating towards a circular economy to sustain and repair the planet

To cut carbon emissions and reduce pressure on nature, businesses must embrace circular economy solutions.

In a circular economy, products, services, and infrastructure are designed to maximise value and minimise waste. This reduces demand for precious primary resources, lowers carbon emissions, and allows the regeneration of our natural environment. There are direct business benefits too. These include better supply chain management, reducing business risk relating to environmental damage and, finding new commercial opportunities.

we can help you embed circular economy principles into your organisation

Key facts

  • Approximately 45% of global emissions come from industry, agriculture and land-use, which can be reduced by circular solutions.1
  • 61% of the public would like to see large businesses using less energy and materials to create and deliver products and services.2
  • Only 16% of Responsible Business Tracker®  respondents embed the circular economy into their strategy.3

About Business in the Community’s circular economy campaign

We work with businesses along a set of key value chains to solve problems collaboratively and enable circularity. By 2023 our ambition is to equip 60 businesses with the skills and knowledge to adopt circular principles in their procurement, increasing the demand for circular solutions.

Our circular economy campaign is steered by our Circular Economy Taskforce. A group of chief executive officers (CEOs) and other senior executives delivering a high impact programme bringing the circular economy to life. Current areas of focus for the Circular Economy Taskforce include:

Collaboration along value chains and across sectors to enable circularity

We are currently developing our ambitious Circular Business Models Revolution Project. We will bring businesses together to identify barriers, solve problems, and explore business opportunities in enabling circularity along value chains. These range from designing and selling products with longer lives, to alternative retail models like servitisation and leasing as well as online resale.

We welcome your participation. Partnering and sponsorship opportunities are available. If you are a BITC member contact your Relationship Manager for further information. If you do not know their contact details, log in to MyBITC to find them. If you are not part of The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, learn more about BITC membership.

Taking climate action through a circular economy approach  

Through a circular economy approach, businesses can take climate action, reducing their carbon emissions. Tackling emissions relating to the products they sell as well as the products and materials they buy from their suppliers, can have a huge impact. Scope 3 emissions, as they are known, tend to represent the greatest proportion, more than 70%, of a company’s carbon footprint4. Taking a circular economy approach can help reduce this figure.

Resources to help you take action
Taking a circular approach to procurement  

Adopting a circular approach to procurement allows businesses to become more sustainable while delivering business benefits. Circular procurement focuses on closing energy and material loops within supply chains, creating demand for example for remanufactured goods or reuse of materials. It creates long-term value by focusing not just on single transactions, but on the products and services suppliers offer their clients.

In 2022 Business in the Community will be developing joint statements of demand as part of a collaborative procurement project across northern Europe. These will be co-developed by procurers, setting out their future circular asks for three specific product categories. This will send a clear signal to the market of a shared demand, creating the basis for suppliers to invest and innovate to develop circular products which will meet that demand.

If you would like to participate in a circular procurement pilot, or be part of a joint statement of demands, contact your Relationship Manager if you are a member of BITC. If you do not know their contact details, log in to MyBITC to find them. If you are not part of The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, learn more about BITC membership.

Resources to help you take action
Creating circular buildings and offices

BITC’s circular office initiative brings businesses together to learn, share, and try new ideas to bring the circular economy to life in their workplaces. It is about changing how we design, use and operate to eliminate waste and create more efficient, resilient spaces. These spaces will contribute to the long term sustainability of businesses and the wider economy and the positive wellbeing of occupants.

Resources to help you take action
Measuring and reporting circularity

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting is rapidly becoming mainstream practice for UK businesses. While several circular economy reporting frameworks exist, there is not yet a clear and common approach. This has proved to be a barrier to reporting being fully adopted. With the backing of BITC’s Circular Economy Taskforce, BITC has developed a useful set of metrics for measuring circular economy in organisations, and what streamlined but meaningful reporting should look like.
Our insights can be found in our How Circular?: Measuring and Reporting Circular Economy in Business report.

Business leadership on transformative change towards a circular economy

Our members show leadership through showcasing business best practice and thought leadership, as well as convening peer-to-peer learning sessions.

Business in the Community enables members to be at the forefront of creating a circular economy in the UK. We support businesses to share examples of how they are taking action and bringing the circular economy to life in their organisations.

Resources to help you take action
  • A Guide to Recycling, Waste Management and Resource Productivity. This guide sets out the opportunities that rethinking resource and waste transformation can bring, explaining how to eliminate avoidable waste and turn ‘waste’ into ‘wealth’. For any business that recognises its responsibility to change, this is the starting point.
Case studies

We encourage businesses to share examples of how they are taking action and bringing the circular economy to life in their organisations.

Next steps

  1. Take part in the Responsible Business Tracker® to assess your starting point, create and deliver and measure progress on your circular economy strategy with our advisory support. BITC members can contact their Relationship Manager for further information. If you do not know their contact details, log in to MyBITC to find them. If you are not a BITC member contact our Advisory Service Team.
  2. Join the Circular Economy Taskforce and help steer our work. Speak to your Relationship Manager or contact Maya de Souza, Circular Economy Campaign Director at BITC to find out more.
  3. Take part in the Circular Business Model Revolution: Value Chain initiative helping identify barriers to circularity and explore solutions relating to specific value chains. BITC members can contact their Relationship Manager for further information or contact Maya de Souza, Circular Economy Campaign Director at BITC.
  4. Take part in our project on Measuring & Reporting on Circularity, exploring reporting frameworks and identifying key metrics to report on.
    If you would like to be involved contact Peter Ramsey, Circular Procurement Campaign Manager.

we can help you embed circular economy principles into your organisation

GLOBAL GOALS
TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Graphic image of a glass with large drop in the middle with text saying '6 clean water and sanitation' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 6
Graphic image of three stacked blocks with text saying '9 industry, innovation and infrastructure' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 9
Graphic image of four different sized buildings with text saying '11 sustainable cities and communities' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 11
Graphic image of an infinity loop with text saying '12 responsible production and consumption' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 12
Graphic image of a planet Earth with text saying '13 Climate Action' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 13
Graphic image of a fish and some waves saying '14 Life below water' reflecting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) or Global Goal 14
Global goal 15 - green backgroung with a tree and three birds flying past the tree all in white.
References
  1. Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2021) Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change.
  2. Business in the Community (2022) Taken from research conducted for The Right Climate For Business: leading a just transition report but not included in final version.
  3. Business in the Community (2020) Responsible Business Tracker® 2019/20 Insights Report.
  4. Deloitte (no date) Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions: What you need to know.