To mark Earth Overshoot Day, global sustainable development consultancy Arup and responsible business network Business in the Community (BITC) have released the key findings of the Circular Economy Taskforce leadership roundtable series that ran between July 2022 and July 2023, informing a new set of guidance to enable organisations’ circularity adoption.

The report ‘In Your Hands: Going Circular for Net Zero’ gives insight into the senior leadership discussions that have taken place over the last year related to barriers to change, consumption-related emissions and unlocking green finance to adopt circularity in mainstream business practices. Outlining the state of play across a multitude of sectors grappling with decarbonisation targets amidst the cost-of-living crisis, the publication offers a framework of foundational steps to equip businesses with the thinking, skills, and methodology to action progress regardless of circularity maturity.  

Diane Emerson, Director of Climate and Sustainability Services, Arup, and BITC Circular Economy Taskforce Chair, said:

"Coinciding with Earth Overshoot Day, today’s publication of our findings and framework for business action is both timely and essential. It has been a huge privilege to lead BITC’s Circular Economy Taskforce over the last year as we continue to collaboratively accelerate the circularity agenda by pooling ideas, skillsets, and experiences. Businesses are central to all areas of climate crisis solutions, and by driving circular principles further into the mainstream we can collectively deliver the systems change required to realise our net zero targets, retore nature and embed social equity.

"As part of its guidance framework, the report identifies four key levers for change. Within these areas, interconnected actions are explored related to purchasing power and localisation of supply chains, green finance taxonomies and the development of product and labelling policies."

Sam Balch, Executive Director Campaigns & Content, BITC said:

"Business in the Community have been delighted to partner with Arup convening business leaders to reflect on what's needed to take advantage of circular economy to reduce emissions rapidly, generate new economic opportunities for business, and improve our resilience. We hope that these insights will inform and support wider action on this important agenda.

"As well as encapsulating ongoing conversations among industry leaders, the publication shares wider research of BITC member firms, offering an integrated perspective of the UK’s complex and interconnected business landscape. Findings include 51% of surveyed member organisations now have specific teams responsible for the management of circular economy issues, with the financial viability of circular business models cited as an area of uncertainty and can still be understood as a barrier to mainstream change."  

Kate Jackson, Circular Economy Lead, Arup said:

"Business in the Community remain at the forefront of influencing businesses to engage with topics that benefit our environment and safeguard our future. As outlined in our report, adopting circularity in business models is an exciting opportunity for organisations to embrace the systemic change ahead of policy implementation and become part of the solution. By mapping an action framework, we are giving businesses the tools to be ambitious with their circularity journeys, understanding it as an integral element in the race to net zero.

"Today marks Earth Overshoot Day 2023, signifying that humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded Earth’s regenerative capacity for the rest of the year. Calculated by assessing the planet’s biocapacity against humanity’s ecological footprint, this annual date is paramount to the circular economy agenda and encourages global consideration to the consumption of our resources and materials, as well as businesses’ interaction with these issues."

The full report can be read on the Business in the Community’s website