WRAP outlines £330BN economic growth potential for EU from smarter resource use

7th November 2013
  • Liz Goodwin unveils Circular Economy 2020 Vision for the EU
  • EU could benefit from improved trade balance of £90 billion and creation of 160,000 jobs
  • Liz Goodwin calls for “combined effort” to cut avoidable household food waste by half

WRAP today outlined how the European economy could be transformed by 2020, through wide-scale adoption of a resource efficient circular economy*.

Speaking to UK and European business leaders at WRAP’s Annual Conference in London, Dr Liz Goodwin outlined the considerable benefits to the economy, job creation and the environment, identified by WRAP’s EU 2020 Vision**.

She pinpointed food as one of the most wasted resources and called for “concerted action” to halve UK household food waste by 2025.

She said business opportunities from more efficient resource use include:

  • Business competitiveness improvements of £330 billion (400 billion EUROS)
  • The potential for an additional 160,000 people to be employed in the recycling sector
  • Improved trade balance of £90 billion (110 billion EUROS)
  • 500 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent could be avoided
  • 190 million tonnes less extracted raw materials and imported goods used
  • 220 million tonnes less waste produced
  • 350 million tonnes more materials recycled

Building on WRAP’s work, and in line with WRAP’s conference theme ‘Vision 2020: the path to a circular economy’, Dr Goodwin called on businesses to work together to achieve these benefits, She said:

“Understanding the potential for the circular economy is one thing, achieving it is something far more complex and challenging. Our challenge and opportunity today is to go one step further, and understand how we can turn ideas behind the circular economy into positive action.”

She continued:
“Building a more resource efficient circular economy will help us deliver a more sustainable future and I intend WRAP to be at the heart of delivering the vision in the UK and beyond. This will deliver benefits to our funders, to business, and to consumers.”

WRAP’s work on biomass and material flows shows that food is one of the heaviest uses of resources and the stream in which most is currently wasted. Efficient food production and consumption is therefore critical to a circular economy.

Turning to WRAP’s Household Food & Drink Waste 2012 data launched earlier today, Dr Goodwin called for a collective ambition to further reduce household food waste.

She said this could be achieved by wider adoption of initiatives already underway, for example the recent roll-out of a Love Food Hate Waste behaviour change campaign across West London Boroughs which saved councils £8 for each £1 invested.

“Working together in a concerted effort, rolling out initiatives more widely, spreading best practice… I believe through that we can all make a major impact. I know there is real commitment to tackle this issue. Every day I see innovations and initiatives by governments local and national, by communities, by business, by think tanks, by individuals.

“At WRAP, we think that by 2025 it could be possible to prevent up to another 15 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste. This means that food worth a staggering £45 billion could be saved. If collectively, working together, we could do this, it would mean reducing avoidable UK food waste by half by 2025, compared to when we first started work in this area, in 2007.”

The full text of Liz Goodwin’s speech is available online: http://www.wrap.org.uk/ac2013speechlg


Supportive quotes from speakers:

Dan Rogerson MP Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Resource Management, at Defra, said:
“As the Minister responsible for resource management I am delighted to be speaking at the conference. I welcome WRAP’s vision for a circular economy looking towards 2020. I have confidence that we can meet the challenge of managing our resources less wastefully and more efficiently, allowing us to build a stronger economy whilst protecting the environment.”

Matt Simister, Commercial Director Group Food, Tesco said:
“Tackling food waste requires collaborative action and I’d like to congratulate WRAP on the ambitious vision they have set out today. We’re working with WRAP, alongside our suppliers and customers, to try to cut waste at all stages of the food journey from farm to fork. The steps announced by WRAP today will not only help to significantly drive down the levels of food waste but benefit consumers and farmers too.”

Amanda Sourry, Chairperson, Unilever UK & Ireland said,
“The theme of WRAP’s annual conference this year is highly topical; the concept of a circular economy is hugely relevant to sustainable living which we at Unilever are committed to through our Sustainable living Plan. It is critical that we tackle waste. I believe significant progress can be made through greater public and private sector collaboration and so I welcome the opportunity to meet with other like minded organisations who share a passion for innovative thinking at the Conference.”

Ms. Fabienne Pierre, UNEP Programme Officer, said,
"UNEP and WRAP are working towards a similar goal, advancing resource efficiency and sustainable lifestyles, including through a more sustainable use of food and an end to food waste. There is a great opportunity to work together to scale up and replicate this work in many countries, both developed and developing, with the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP). This global framework of action, adopted at Rio+20, aims at building cooperation to shift the world towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production. This framework invites all players and organizations active in this area, such as WRAP, to enable a collective and positive impact."

Notes to editors:

*The circular economy is sustainable economics: it is about using as few resources as possible and ensuring that those resources can not only be re-used, but re-used in a way which is regenerating and enhances the earth’s store of natural capital.  

**The economic benefits identified are of a consequence of the environmental benefits outlined. Note that the figures for 2020 are intended to be illustrative of the potential for a circular economy, in terms of material, carbon and monetary benefits given the assumptions outlined.

WRAP’s EU Circular Economy 2020 Vision: http://www.wrap.org.uk/euvision2020

WRAP’s Household Food & Drink Waste 2012 report: http://www.wrap.org.uk/foodvision

WRAP’s UK Circular Economy 2020 Vision: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/wraps-vision-uk-circular-economy-2020

Follow the debate on Twitter at @Wrap_UK, using #WRAP2020

WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency.

Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.



Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677

Paul Saville

PR Manager
01295 819638