‘Consider a circular economy,’ KBB industry urged

Experts speaking at the BMA’s annual Bathroom and Kitchen Conference, have urged kitchen and bathroom manufacturers to work towards a circular economy.

Addressing attendees at the conference, held at The Belfry hotel in Sutton Coldfield, Professor Margaret Bates (pictured), Professor of Sustainable Wastes Management at the University of Northampton, explained the meaning of a circular economy and how it could affect the KBB industry.

“In basic terms, a circular economy is about understanding how we use resources,” she said. “In doing so, it reduces waste, because it ensures industry thinks about using materials in a more intelligent and more sustainable way.

“Better use of resources could represent overall savings of €630 billion per year for European industry.”

Jane Thornback, sustainability policy advisor at the Construction Policy Association, told the conference that around 30% of waste generated in the EU is from the construction and demolition industry, making it the largest generator of waste in the UK and EU.

Thornback also revealed that in the UK in 2012, 45.85 million tonnes of waste was generated by the construction and demolition industry. Of that figure, 44.8m tonnes was non-hazardous, yet just 38.8m tonnes was recovered, most of which was down-cycled.

She claimed that manufacturers, including those in the KBB industry, have a “duty” to “adopt more sustainable business models” and encouraged them to look at new materials and invest in new technology that use less energy and are more sustainable.

“We’re living in a changing world and the competition for resources is not going away,” Thornback said. “The KBB industry has a responsibility towards Eco Design – designing products for disassembly and recovery – in order to reduce waste.”

Wolseley’s head of sustainability, Tim Pollard, agreed and warned conference attendees that a circular economy in the UK is “not just a theory, but a reality” and encouraged KBB manufacturers to get ready for it by changing their business patterns before legislation is passed.

In line with Bates’s presentation, Pollard also highlighted that, in addition to helping the environment and extending the life of resources, there are a number of key benefits of industry embracing a circular economy: “A circular economy represents a $1 trillion opportunity. It will create new jobs, new business opportunities, cost savings in raw materials and manufacturing.”

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