HRH Prince of Wales Launches Waste To Wealth Summit

HRH The Prince of Wales today delivered the keynote address at the Waste to Wealth Summit.  As a collaborating partner in the Waste to Wealth Commitment, Eco-Age were there – here are the highlights.

Today saw the launch of the new Waste to Wealth Commitment, developed by Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network.  HRH The Prince of Wales – a committed environmentalist and our 2017 GCC Global Leader of Change – delivered a keynote address at The Waste to Wealth Summit at Veolia Southwark’s waste management facility in London, during which addressed the urgent need to tackle the resource issue in the UK and explained why business is best placed to meet this challenge.  The Summit brought together 200 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society, with the aim of tackling challenges and finding solutions to eliminate avoidable waste by 2030.

Why 2030? In October this year the IPCC issued a warning that we have just 12 years to mitigate climate change. This date also coincides with the endpoint of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, making that a critical year for drastic change.

“We must make the most out of precious resources, waste as little as possible and find ways of turning the waste we do create into new wealth,” reads the commitment. 

The UK produces more than 200million tonnes of waste each year, including: 

  • 118million tonnes from construction, demolition and excavation activities 
  • 28million tonnes from commercial and industrial waste
  • 27million tonnes from household waste

The BITC said that UK businesses could save £7.2billion by improving the productivity of energy and resources, with waste reduction saving organisations up to £1000 per year per employee.

Through the Commitment, businesses that are members of the Prince’s Responsible Business Network are being asked to make commitments that help collectively double the nation’s resource productivity and reduce waste by 2030 (supercharging the UK Industrial Strategy’s 2050 targets). Other organisations are encouraged to sign up as partners to help tackle the problem within their business.  The commitments are as follows:

  1. Work collectively towards doubling the nation’s resource productivity and eliminating avoidable waste by 2030, contributing in the way that is most relevant to our business.
  2. Set targets to improve the productivity of resources that are key for our business.
  3. Redesign how resources are used in our products, services and operations.
  4. Collaborate across our organisations, value chains and sectors.
  5. Reconvene and report on progress annually to share learning and demonstrate results.

It was heartening to hear about progress, though we left with the questions that if consumers know that items can be recycled rather than end up in landfill, how can we get them to consume less? This is a massive issue, particularly in the fast fashion industry, and something we addressed recently when we gave evidence at the UK Government Environmental Committee ‘Sustainability of the Fashion Industry Inquiry’. How do we balance the education to drastically reduce consumption and the business opportunities which come from turning “waste into wealth”?

In case you missed it, here are our top 10 quotes from the Summit:

1. “Waste to wealth – This is a subject that needs to be close to all our hearts if we are to achieve the future we want for our families, businesses, society, and one and only planet.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

2. “WWK UK is absolutely right – we are the first generation to understand in full, and in terrifying scientific detail, that we are testing our world to destruction. We are the last to be able to do anything about it, if we do not act our children and grandchildren will not be able to change it. I do not want to miss that opportunity.”- HRH The Prince of Wales 

3. “It is clear that recycling is part of the answer. We have become very good at making things, now we need to become good at un-making and re-making.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

4. “150 million tonnes of clothing is sold every year globally and majority ends up in landfills or incinerators.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

5. “As things stand the sums do not add up. If we are to have any chance of limiting climate change to well below two degrees, we are going to have to use much less of the Earth’s resources, and use them more efficiently too. This is going to require changes at both speed and scale.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

6. “The small steps we’ve taken towards Circular Economy will need to become giant strides if we are to meet our goals.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

7. “This is a $4.5trillion opportunity by 2030 for businesses. We need to rethink free things. We need to stop thinking of waste as a cost or risk, but as an opportunity.” – Peter Lacy, author of Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage

8. “We have 140 million tonnes of waste in the EU that ends up in landfill. The problem isn’t incineration capacity – waste is going to landfill when it should be material recycled or energy recovered as a last resort.” – Klas Gustaffson, VP, Teknisha Verken

9. “What we have to do is make it simple. It must be simple to do the right thing – people want to do right and we have responsibility to make it simple to do the right thing.” – Klas Gustaffson, VP, Teknisha Verken

10. “For all the time that mankind has been on this earth we’ve been having a gradual impact on our planet. It was gradual in our quest for things for food, shelter, etc. Over time the resources of the Earth were utilised without much thought to the morrow. But in recent years the weight of our footprint has suddenly become much heavier and much more impactful, undermining the ability of all of us to hand it on in a fit state to future generations.” – Secretary of State; Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

See all of our live coverage of the event on Twitter.

Photo Credit: BITC Environment