Peterborough businesses boost their profits at Circular Economy event

A group of busi­ness del­eg­ates and con­sult­ing pro­fes­sion­als from vari­ous indus­tries across Peter­bor­ough and fur­ther afield, took part in a prac­tic­al work­shop this week to learn more about how adopt­ing cir­cu­lar eco­nomy prin­ciples can bene­fit both their busi­ness and the wider city. The event, which was hos­ted at the Allia Future Busi­ness Centre, was delivered by the Know­ledge Trans­fer Net­work (KTN) as part of the Peter­bor­ough DNA Smart City pro­gram­me.

Sponsored by Allia as part of the city’s Cir­cu­lar Peter­bor­ough ini­ti­at­ive — an ambi­tion to cre­ate a cir­cu­lar city to help Peter­bor­ough effi­ciently man­age the flow of its resources – the event sup­por­ted busi­nesses to take their first prac­tic­al steps towards cir­cu­lar­ity.

The event began with an intro­duc­tion from KTN and the Peter­bor­ough DNA pro­ject team to help del­eg­ates under­stand more about the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy approach: what it is, the inten­ded out­come for the city, and examples of how it is already being used in Peter­bor­ough.  Del­eg­ates then par­ti­cip­ated in group activ­it­ies to put the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy approach into prac­tice, to chal­lenge their usu­al way of doing busi­ness and explore ways to apply the prin­ciples to their own com­pan­ies.

Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment com­pany Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough, said: “Our vis­ion to become a Cir­cu­lar City will put Peter­bor­ough right at the front of smart city think­ing, re-enfor­cing our aspir­a­tion to make Peter­bor­ough a fant­ast­ic place to live and work.  How­ever, to achieve that vis­ion, we need col­lab­or­a­tion on a city-wide scale, with rep­res­ent­at­ives from busi­ness, schools, com­munit­ies as well as city insti­tu­tions.

This event provided prac­tic­al guid­ance to help Peter­bor­ough busi­nesses adopt Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy prin­ciples — help­ing the city achieve its ambi­tion but also sup­port­ing del­eg­ates to boost their bot­tom line.  We’re keen to work with as many loc­al com­pan­ies as pos­sible so would encour­age any busi­ness with an interest in work­ing in a more eco­nom­ic­ally sus­tain­able way to get in touch.”

If the solution is the circular economy, then what is the problem?

Essen­tially, our plan­et has finite resources yet humans have an infin­ite appet­ite for wealth. An effect­ive solu­tion is urgently needed for the sake of sta­bil­ity and future growth. That’s exactly what the con­cept of the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy offers: A prac­tic­al solu­tion which allows prosper­ity, whil­st keep­ing nature and people at its core.

What is a cir­cu­lar eco­nomy try­ing to solve?

The prob­lem is actu­ally as sim­ple as it is huge: our eco­nom­ic sys­tem is greedy by nature. It relies on the accu­mu­la­tion of goods and ser­vices and exists by sat­is­fy­ing a dream of expo­nen­tial growth. Soci­ety has to pro­duce and con­sume more to keep its cur­rent pace. And as there are just over 7 bil­lion people on the plan­et, it’s not dif­fi­cult to ima­gine the vast levels of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion needed to sat­is­fy these demands.

This means we’re squeez­ing our planet’s resources at such a pace that it doesn’t have time to replen­ish its stocks, so we’re exhaust­ing some key resources. Some of these are vital to our lives — like fresh water — oth­ers are deeply engrained in our way of life — like oil.

In par­al­lel, everything we pro­duce and con­sume ends up in bins. We’re gen­er­at­ing immense amounts of waste that has to be dealt with. It impacts our health, through soil and air pol­lu­tion, and it also impacts on our purses. Half of the UK’s food waste comes from house­holds, yet each home could save an aver­age of £60 per week just by avoid­ing wast­ing food.

Effect­ively, our eco­nom­ic sys­tem is reach­ing its lim­its and burn­ing its own roots — we’re quite hap­pily cut­ting the branch we’re sit­ting on! As Nature puts it in its latest spe­cial fea­ture: “As resources dwindle and waste piles up, the ‘take, make and dis­pose’ lin­ear mod­el of eco­nom­ics is in need of a rethink.”

Read the signs

Yet while the chal­lenge is stark, it’s encour­aging to see big com­pan­ies acknow­ledging the issue and cham­pi­on­ing the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy con­cept as a way to tackle it. King­fish­er, Uni­lever, Philips, Per­kins Engines, Veolia, Skanska, Viridor, to name just a few, are not only con­vinced, they’re also tak­ing pos­it­ive action — vis­ibly.

The Ellen MacAr­thur Found­a­tion – the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy guru – CE100 group’s dir­ect­ory provide a good insight to the range of early adop­ters, from start-ups and innov­at­ors to cit­ies and gov­ern­ments.

Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy is pop­ular in polit­ic­al spheres too. The European Union’s large-scale pub­lic con­sulta­tion (the UK par­ti­cip­ated with its offi­cial pos­i­tion) led to a Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy pack­age in Decem­ber 2015. Our Gov­ern­ment is also sup­port­ive of the prin­ciples, hav­ing endorsed a Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy task for­ce and pub­lished reports.

If industry and polit­ic­al lead­ers are embra­cing the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy approach, it’s because our cur­rent eco­nom­ic system’s flaw is now hit­ting the private sec­tor — it’s very core. Resource scarcity and/or price volat­il­ity are a con­cern for most com­pan­ies, either dir­ectly or through their sup­ply chain. Deal­ing with waste also comes at a cost, in trans­port, col­lec­tion, land­fill taxes, etc.

It may be more dif­fi­cult for the pub­lic to grasp the trap we’ve set ourselves, because the products we want or need are always avail­able on the shelves of our west­ern super­mar­kets. We don’t really know, or indeed care, what hap­pens to our waste once we’ve dis­posed of it.

Or per­haps the trap is too big — or it’s out of our reach — so what can we really do about it? The beau­ty of a cir­cu­lar eco­nomy is to allow every­one to play their own part. Every small step in the right dir­ec­tion is sig­ni­fic­ant.

But let’s not be fooled either. Answer­ing the sys­tem­ic crisis we’ve reached requires a sys­tem­ic solu­tion. Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy is chan­ging the engrained pat­terns we’ve adop­ted at work and at home. It is as com­pre­hens­ive as it is dis­rupt­ive.

As it unites con­flict­ing interests, it provides a robust solu­tion. It’s not just another trendy buzzword that will soon fade away.

I hope this blog has sparked your interest and that you’re now keen to know more about Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy and how it works. So, stay tuned for the second blog in this series, as it will focus exactly on that.

In the mean­time, don’t hes­it­ate to con­tact us to dis­cuss how you can play your part in cre­at­ing a cir­cu­lar Peter­bor­ough.

Continuing our Circular Peterborough Vision

The second work­shop to deliv­er Peterborough’s vis­ion to become the UK’s first cir­cu­lar city took place at the Allia Future Busi­ness Centre on the 1st March.

60 rep­res­ent­at­ives from the pub­lic sec­tor, aca­demia and industry came togeth­er to fur­ther pro­gress our jour­ney to becom­ing a Cir­cu­lar City and demon­strat­ing the value of apply­ing Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy across an entire city. The day was split into two work­shop ses­sions. Dur­ing the morn­ing, del­eg­ates co-cre­ated the ‘Cir­cu­lar Peter­bor­ough’ mani­festo. This was fol­lowed by design­ing a num­ber of pilot pro­jects in the areas of man­u­fac­tur­ing, built envir­on­ment, food and water and lead­er­ship and gov­ernance. Next steps will include the pub­lish­ing of the mani­festo and bring­ing the demon­strat­or pro­jects to life.

If you would like to get involved or receive more inform­a­tion on our cir­cu­lar eco­nomy ini­ti­at­ive, please con­tact us.

Peterborough wins Smart City of the Year 2015

Peter­bor­ough has been named Smart City of the Year 2015 at a glit­ter­ing awards cere­mony in Bar­celona this week, atten­ded by busi­ness del­eg­ates, entre­pren­eurs and city rep­res­ent­at­ives from around the world.

The World Smart City Con­gress is the key annu­al event for smart cit­ies organ­ised by Fira de Bar­celona. The awards were presen­ted on 18th Novem­ber at a cere­mony atten­ded by rep­res­ent­at­ives of the cit­ies and com­pan­ies short­l­is­ted in four cat­egor­ies, includ­ing Smart City of the Year. The Bar­celona-based con­gress worked with 7 inter­na­tion­al experts to eval­u­ate 265 entries from 52 coun­tries.

Short­l­is­ted cit­ies in the Smart City of the Year 2015 included Moscow and Dubai, but judges were impressed with Peterborough’s com­mit­ment to becom­ing the UK’s first cir­cu­lar city and its envir­on­ment cap­it­al vis­ion. Peterborough’s col­lab­or­at­ive approach to cit­izen involve­ment, also con­vinced the awards jury that Peter­bor­ough should win the award.

Delivered by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment com­pany, Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough, the Peter­bor­ough DNA Smart City pro­gram­me focuses on growth, innov­a­tion, skills and sus­tain­ab­il­ity with the goal of integ­rat­ing city ser­vices and sys­tems to make Peter­bor­ough a bet­ter place to live and work.

Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Dir­ect­or of the Peter­bor­ough DNA pro­gram­me, said: “This award puts Peter­bor­ough well and truly on the inter­na­tion­al stage and pos­i­tions us as a thought lead­er in smart and future city think­ing. This is a huge trib­ute to all the people involved in the pro­ject and to the busi­nesses and cit­izens of Peter­bor­ough”.

Coun­cil­lor John Holdi­ch, Lead­er of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, said: “This is a fant­ast­ic achieve­ment for every­one involved and for the city of Peter­bor­ough.”

Peterborough launches vision to become the UK’s first Circular City

Peterborough launches vision to become the UK’s first Circular City

The first event saw city lead­ers, aca­dem­ics and experts work­ing togeth­er to cre­ate a road map to deliv­er the cir­cu­lar vis­ion. Gil­lian Beas­ley, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil out­lined Peterborough’s aspir­a­tion and del­eg­ates heard from two city organ­isa­tions who already embrace the cir­cu­lar con­cept: Skanska and Peter­bor­ough Reuse. Peter­bor­ough Reuse secured fund­ing from the Peter­bor­ough DNA pro­gram­me to divert large quant­it­ies of cof­fee sacks from land­fill, riverb­ank rein­force­ment and a range of tex­tile products such as shop­ping bags.

The city’s young people were rep­res­en­ted by stu­dents from Arthur Mel­lows Vil­lage Col­lege and Thomas Dea­con Academy who presen­ted their ideas for a cir­cu­lar city at the Smart Sup­per event held at the Uni­ver­sity Centre Peter­bor­ough. Three teams presen­ted ideas ran­ging from reusing con­struc­tion waste, cre­at­ing bio-fuels from urb­an min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing high end design­er clothes from char­ity shop cast offs. 65 city pro­fes­sion­als judged the present­a­tions over sup­per, in a high energy, thought pro­vok­ing even­ing.

The win­ning team, Green Con­struc­tion from Arthur Mel­lows Vil­lage Col­lege, will be provided busi­ness sup­port to help develop their idea of work­ing with hous­ing developers, recyc­ling waste build­ing mater­i­als and re-using it to build­ing green areas across the city.

The week closed with an on-line Swap-it ses­sion where busi­nesses met to share and swap under­used products, skills and resource.

Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Dir­ect­or of Peter­bor­ough DNA said, “This is an excit­ing evol­u­tion in our Smart Cit­ies Pro­gram­me. Our vis­ion to become the UK’s First Cir­cu­lar City will put Peter­bor­ough right at the front of smart city think­ing, re-enfor­cing our aspir­a­tion to make Peter­bor­ough a fant­ast­ic place to live and work. How­ever, to achieve that vis­ion, we need col­lab­or­a­tion on a city-wide scale, with rep­res­ent­at­ives from busi­ness, schools, com­munit­ies as well as city Insti­tu­tions. This week long series of events aimed to kick-start think­ing and col­lab­or­a­tion to cre­ate a road map for suc­cess. The feed­back, com­mit­ment and enthu­si­asm in the city has been incred­ible and has helped us for­mu­late a clear plan to how achieve our vis­ion.”