What the UK needs to become a leading circular economy is the Government to provide visionary leadership
As well as individuals and businesses taking action, what the UK needs to become a leading circular economy is the Government to provide visionary leadership, otherwise people will continue to think small, says IKEA.
Hege Sæbjørnsen, Sustainability Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, said:
“While the whole world struggles with a new way of life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we still see glimpses of positive movements such as the impact on the environment - from the deserted canals in Venice cleared of plastic pollution for the first time in decades, to the improved air quality from Wuhan to New York, and the need to take inspiration from our grandparents’ generation and vastly reduce the amount of food we waste. We also see an increased focus on supporting our communities, co-workers, suppliers and the vulnerable amongst us, taking care of health and safety and a million acts of kindness and connection everywhere.
“As the world adapts to new ways of living and working, it only highlights the huge importance of people, businesses and countries adopting entirely new ways of living, shopping, working, behaving, and consuming. We may be ready, finally, for a so-called circular and climate positive society, where we care for people and planet first.
“It’s difficult to contemplate the sheer scale of implementing a circular economy – it takes a paradigm shift in mindset - but perhaps it’s how we’re forced by circumstance to live at the moment which will bring it to life and make it to seem more achievable. At the moment, we have no choice but to look at how we consume and behave, and our lifestyle choices that shape that; once this pandemic is over, I hope this is something that people will continue to embrace and practice.
“However, the onus should not be solely on consumers and individuals, and while there have been steps taken to reduce our throwaway culture, it’s crucial that businesses take responsibility and lead the way.
“I don’t believe that any big business has been successful in becoming circular or climate positive - yet. Whilst some small start-ups and SME’s are transforming the way we traditionally think about business, and important conversations are taking place across C-suite level of businesses, nobody has yet managed to prove that circularity can be done at scale. Most big companies have a long way to go. This is also because we have to do it together, across sectors, across borders. We are interconnected and interdependent, something the last few weeks have made abundantly clear. If we were unwilling to fully accept this before, we have to accept it now.
“At IKEA we are taking bold strides in how we can become a circular and climate positive business, aiming to create a new movement for better living and better business. We are committed to make it easier and affordable for people to make better and conscious buying choices, but we’re asking our customers and partners to do their bit too.
“As a business, we need to frame the environmental and social challenges we face positively and focus on solutions and what we can all do to have a positive impact. People need a compelling vision to imagine what a positive future will look like. Our role is to make circularity and regenerative futures less corporate and technical, instead ensuring they are tangible and applicable to real life. The opportunity to make this mainstream is now, at a time when we are all feeling and experiencing a different reality.
“Finally, as well as individuals and businesses taking action, what the UK needs to become a leading circular economy is the Government to provide visionary leadership, otherwise people will continue to think small. Right now, UK Government policy addresses sustainability as a waste management problem, however it is so much more holistic and full of potential than that and we have a long way to go.”