WRAP Conference 2015: Resources Challenges

 

The 2015 WRAP conference held at Central Hall Westminster building in London saw the gathering of sustainable and environmental professionals from different backgrounds, coming together to analyse how businesses and individuals are using resources.

Earlier this year, WRAP launched its five-year plan, outlining the urgent need for everyone to change the way we use resources in order to address the global challenges we face.

The event focused on three main themes: food, clothing and electrical items.

Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP, started things off and explained what challenges we are facing with the use of our world resources. Her ten year old niece, Ines, was the center of her speech to put into perspective what the future holds for her generation if we do not act now to change our approach to resources.

The main challenge we all have to face is the rapidly growing number of earth inhabitants. With a limit source of resources, Dr Goodwin made it clear that we need to take action, and we are all involved in this big picture. However, all is not lost! WRAP commitment to change things around is clear and real.

SCAP 2020 (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) and ESAP (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sustainability Action Plan) along with the Courtauld Commitment are the answers from WRAP to create clear and achievable goals in order to switch to a sustainable resource efficiency economy.

The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing waste within the UK grocery sector. It’s where Judith Batchelar, Brand Director at Sainsbury’s, got involved. She was really proud to share with us what Sainsbury’s are doing to help reduce the impact of its stores around the country. Working with WRAP for over 10 years, Sainsbury’s are “committed to carrying on the fight further”. What Miss Batchelar pointed out is, nowadays people shop very differently than in the past, due to the emergence of discount stores or online shopping. This trend will continue to increase and big retailors need to adapt accordingly to make sure they answer their customers’ needs and expectations. One of their answers is the launching of a smartphone application to help shoppers reduce their household waste to save money by planning better before shopping, cooking, storing etc.

Kevin Considine, Sustainability Affairs Manager at Samsung, was the final speaker for the day. Every year the average household in the UK spends around £800 on new electrical and electronic goods. Approximately 1.4 million tonnes per year of electrical waste is created, 40% of which goes to landfill.

WRAP created the ESAP plan with the aim to revolutionise how manufacturers design, sell, repair, re-use and recycle electrical and electronic devices. Samsung is part of this plan and helps promote the repair of any broken phones through repair centers throughout the UK. This helps promote the re-use of their phones and thus, enhance branding image in terms of sustainability. As Mr. Considine explained: “Refurbishment is an increasingly important and growing sector which would allow us to get closer to our customers”. It means for customers that they do not have to purchase a new phone, therefore waste is not created and Samsung has happy customers for longer.

After the final presentation by Mr. Considine, the audience had the opportunity to ask the panel of speakers their questions. Jessica Shankleman brilliantly orchestrated the debate, which was mostly orientated towards the sustainability and practicability of the different agreements undertaken by both Sainsbury’s and Samsung regarding their engagements made with WRAP such at The Courtauld Commitment or ESAP.

The conference helped prove that actions must be taken if we want to give a better world for Ines’s generation. The actual use of resources is not sustainable but there are real solutions and action already in place to change this situation. Now it is up to us to make things happen and let manufacturers and retailers know that it is important for us that they engage in a more sustainable way of operating, and have to switch to a circular economy model rather than the linear model that has proven to not be the solution for the world of tomorrow.

By Romain Lantoine 2015

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