Business leaders ‘will fundamentally change society on path to net zero’

That’s the forecast from James Close, Head of the Circular Economy Programme for London at the London Waste and Recycling Board, who spoke to future Net Zero Founder Sumit Bose earlier this month

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Business leaders will do extraordinary things to fundamentally change the way society operates, functions and consumes products on the path to net zero by 2050.

That’s the forecast from James Close, Head of the Circular Economy Programme for London at the London Waste and Recycling Board – he said the net zero world in 2050 will be “very different” in terms of what’s being produced, with the global economy shifting to one centred around services rather than products.

Speaking to future Net Zero Founder Sumit Bose, he stressed while there is a need to decarbonise electricity production and the grid, it is also vital to think about and reduce consumption-based emissions from areas such as food, waste, plastics and the built environment.

He said there is a need to produce products more sustainably and use them in a different, more circular way, including adopting reusing, reducing, repairing and recycling practices to allow their component resources to be used “in perpetuity”, slashing the volume of waste sent to landfill.

Noting that although most of the world is currently locked into a linear economy, Mr Close acknowledged this is starting to change, bringing with it a wealth of opportunities.

He said: “We should look at those opportunities and think about how businesses can create the business models of the future that enable that to happen.”

He called on the three main actors of government, business and citizens to work together to create a greener system made up of a combination of regulation, processes and behaviours.

Accepting that implementing regulations to put a price on waste would likely be necessary, he also emphasised that consumers will have to sincerely want to play a part if the circular economy is to be a success – for this, he pointed to the importance of education and setting up convenient and simple waste processes, such as easy-to-use on-street recycling.

He said this would open up the potential for higher quality waste streams, meaning materials can be meaningfully and economically repurposed rather than being wasted at ‘end-of-life’.

Mr Close told future Net Zero: “We need to get behind those businesses that really want to do this and prepare to make this transition and support them.

“We can do things by making our investments in a smarter, more sustainable way, by buying products that are smarter and more sustainable and supporting businesses that have got new and innovative business models that are going to drive that exciting future.”

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