On Global Recycling Day (18 March), leading sustainability authority, Bureau Veritas is reminding manufacturing firms that a move towards a circular economy business model should be at the heart of their coronavirus recovery.

Created in 2018 to help recognise and celebrate the importance recycling plays in preserving precious primary resources, this year’s Global Recycling Day 2021 will focus on #RecyclingHeroes. This will appreciate the people, places and activities that showcase what an important role recycling plays in contributing to a greener future that will the planet.

This year’s Global Recycling Day coincides with a new report by academics around the world which states that economies and sectors that prioritise a move toward a ‘circular economy’ model could better recover from the financial impact of the pandemic. The report echoes of previous recommendations by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that investing in circular economy principles in sectors including construction, fashion, food, plastic packaging and cars could drive the post-pandemic recovery.

As such, Bureau Veritas, which has helped some of the world’s largest organisations improve their sustainability performance, is calling on UK manufacturers to put a circular economy business model at the heart of their post-pandemic recovery plan – while acknowledging this may be a daunting and ambitious task for many. This is especially important, adds the firm ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), set to be hosted by the UK in November.

David Murray, Technical Director for Sustainability at Bureau Veritas, explains: “The pandemic represents an enhanced opportunity to build a resilient and low-carbon economic recovery. However, this requires firms in every sector to put the circular economy at the heart of their post-pandemic business model. Fundamentally, this demonstrates a credible commitment to reduce a business’ reliance on virgin materials and limit the levels of waste produced to minimise its environmental impact.”

“The circular economy business model will be key if the UK is to achieve the Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 and undoubtedly, tackling this issue will be a key priority ahead of the COP26 hosted by the UK in Glasgow later this year.

“While we’re seeing the likes of prominent brands such as IKEA making tangible progress in this space, initiatives such as Global Recycling Day are a great reminder to businesses that coming out of the pandemic consumers are increasingly turning their backs on the old ‘take-make-waste’ way of doing things. Going the extra mile in reducing environmental and social impact is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather essential for post-pandemic recovery and long-term profitability.”

According to Bureau Veritas, businesses looking to embed circular economy principles into their operations need to take a holistic approach, which would have to consider emissions across the entire supply chain – from procurement to disposal – in addition to improving the social sustainability of their practices.

David adds: “The circular economy approach to business should consider the whole organisation and the life cycles of its products. We have seen businesses in various sectors placing a greater emphasis on the utilisation of recycled materials as well as seeking more radical and systematic innovation, such as optimising product design and establishing new business models; all of which can reduce waste output.

“Of course, it’s a huge and complex task, however the business benefits in terms of revolutionising efficiencies, reducing cost, meeting future legislation and an enhanced CSR profile are huge. As world continues to adjust to the ‘new normal’ the pandemic has left behind, its legacy could be to create a new sustainable economy by embracing the circular model.”