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Getting down to business in the circular economy

18 July 2016

Doug Simpson from City Hall’s Environment team gives an update on the  ‘circular economy’ project ….

Back in February, I blogged about a project I’m working on with five small businesses. These businesses are all examples of the circular economy. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a new model where businesses maintain, reuse, refurbish and recycle materials – rather than make, take and dispose of them.  This means that materials can be kept in use as long as possible. It’s also cheaper and better for the environment.

I’m pleased to say that all the businesses are doing well. In this particular blog, I want to talk about Globechain and Snact. The next will feature the other three businesses - Unpackaged, ClothoLondon and The Restart Project.

Since launching Globechain has saved charities and small businesses around £500k over the last year. It has also diverted 700 tonnes from landfill. Globechain helps to reuse fixture, fittings and stock from stores and business. It has sent medical equipment and building materials to disaster recovery charities both in Africa and the UK.

The Globechain model helps businesses to save thousands of pounds in waste disposal and refurbishment costs. It also helps to keep thousands of tonnes of product in use.   The company is looking at a possible tax break for companies that reuse and refurbish both their products and premises. If applied to the construction industry, it could save thousands of tonnes of wasted materials and CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. This would be a brilliant achievement if it happens.

In April, Globechain founder May took part in an Ellen MacArthur Foundation accelerator workshop in Paris. This helped Globechain to link-up with global companies internationally to help grow the business. May is now working with others on cooperative projects and reports for educating organisations that want to adopt circular business models

The other business, Snact is an up and coming snack brand tackling food waste in the UK. It is on track to save 50 tonnes of surplus fruit this year!  Snact have also launched a fruit jerky range that’s been welcomed by food industry players.

Snact has also been working on developing other snack ranges to tackle other sources of surplus. For example, Snact is looking into a project in Kenya where there is up to 60 per cent of surplus mangos are wasted after harvest. Working with a Kenyan community project, Snact hopes to bring mango snacks to market next year.

Back in London, Snact has been looking into compostable packaging for its products. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic packaging has increased 20-fold over the past 50 years. In London alone we consume 400,000 tonnes of plastics each year. Of this, most – over 150,000 tonnes – is packaging!  Using sustainable packaging would cut carbon and cut waste. It would also return biological materials from the packaging back to the earth. Now that would be truly circular!

In the meantime, watch out for the next chapter of the London Circular Economy route map. It’s going to cover food waste. Every year, London produces 890,000 tonnes of household food waste – around 13% of the UK’s total. Of this, around 540,000 tonnes could be avoided. We believe this is a ripe opportunity for a circular model, so watch this space!

Find out more

If you are a business and want to dispose of stock, products, fittings, furniture, equipment or materials, get in touch with Globechain

If you‘re looking for an outlet for your surplus fruit or veg, get in touch with Snact