Yorkshire Water recognised that adopting a circular economy approach would support its vision to protect the water environment.

Following this ambition, they commissioned Arup to identify how the circular economy concept can be applied to its operations. We undertook a high-level study, based upon the principles of the Circular Economy Framework developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Arup is a knowledge partner to the Foundation, which is working with businesses, governments and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. 

We undertook our analysis of the value creation options for Yorkshire Water using a systems approach and included assets, material flows, and wider economic, social and natural systems. This involved identifying key stakeholders, finding a practical trial location in the Yorkshire region and developing a high-level business case for a full-scale project.  

The benefits of a circular economy approach

  • Improved asset productivity 
  • Increase of resilience 
  • Diversify income (by selling by-products such as nutrients and excess heat and power)
  • Reduction of operational costs and 
  • Enhancing asset value

Sustainable and resilient outcomes 

The results have outlined options for sustainable and resilient offerings like a vertical farm, a potable water production plant, housing and commercial land development, and an industrial innovation centre. 

Although the study had a limited-scope, the findings include a potential deployment in other areas within the UK water market.  Yorkshire Water is now considering how to incorporate these into its strategy and future growth plans.