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A system of systems approach: a crucial factor in the shift towards a Circular Economy

A system of systems approach: a crucial factor in the shift towards a Circular Economy

11th December 2018
  • On Wednesday 28th of October, under the Chairmanship of Alan Whitehead MP, Policy Connect and the Resource Recovery from Waste programme held an event in Parliament aimed at introducing the findings of the research. With the goal of creating a space in which to debate how to incorporate economic, environmental and social value into government decision-making, the event gathered academics, parliamentarians and a panel of experts to discuss how to take this crucial step in the shift from a linear to a circular economy.

    As an introduction, and in case the why for developing and incorporating government valuation of non-market impacts and values wasn’t clear, the opening speeches highlighted the relevance of multi-dimensional values in developing strategies for sustainable resource use and clean growth.

    University of Leeds professor and Resource Recovery from Waste programme convener Phil Purnell highlighted how the business case for the circular economy has been made over and over again, and drew on the political, environmental and social aspects as well, posing to the audience the question of how to incorporate a systems of systems approach.

    Following from that question, Professor Andrew Brown, also from the University of Leeds, focused on infrastructure to explain how there are mutual interdependencies that must be recognised and valued across the different elements of infrastructure. The economy, Prof. Brown pointed out, is also interdependent with the ecosystem and the environment.  

    On the same line, also highlighting the relevance of greater resource efficiency for business, industry and the environment alike, Aldersgate Group’s Executive Director Nick Molho reminded the audience that “80% of a product’s environmental impact is determined at the design stage”

    Finally, Geraint Davies MP called for “the old sin tax of fags & booze” to be replaced by a new “Diesel & Plastic” one, the tax profits of which should go back into sustainable development.

    How do we incorporate eco-design directives; what do we measure when we talked about growth and, of course, what to expect from Defra’s Resource & Waste Strategy where among the many questions the audience posed to the speakers and panellists and which, it’s fair to assume, will be further discussed at the Resource Recovery from Waste Conference 2019.