James Piper, CEO of recycling compliance company Ecosurety, has recently taken on the role as Sustainability Ambassador for the IoD in the South West region.
Here he talks about recent legislation in the recycling sector and why consumers are increasingly looking for evidence of sustainability in the businesses they engage with.
The Government recently launched a series of consultations that seek to transform the way packaging is produced and disposed of in England. Considering the last reform to our packaging waste system took place in 1997 this is – to those of us that work in the sector at least – a significant moment.
Defra’s ‘Consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system’ as it is so succinctly called, will affect a large number of producers in the South West. It follows on from Defra’s Resources & Waste Strategy released in December – a commitment to helping England minimise waste, promote resource efficiency and move towards a more circular economy.
The Producer Responsibility Consultation lays out various options for a reformed packaging waste system in England. It is as relevant to the smallest producer as it is to the biggest UK-operating multinational and on this basis, I’d urge all businesses in the South West to read it and seize the opportunity to respond.
What is particularly interesting about the Packaging Producer Consultation is the build up to its release. Following the launch of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II a year ago, public concern around waste plastic disposal spiked. How we responsibly dispose of our packaging waste has become an issue of national importance. Consumers were – and remain - as concerned about the impact the packaging has on the environment as the product itself. Demands for solutions from consumers prompted businesses to call for more change and forced government into action.
However, it isn’t just plastic waste that consumers are more aware of. While previously shareholders and investors were likely to regard the environmental and social performance of a business as a critical ingredient for its long-term success, demands for more sustainable business practice are increasingly coming from the consumer too.
With more choice than ever before, consumers are simply showing their support for more sustainable business through their purchases. This increased demand for sustainability is driving forward change – not only at a business level, but at a legislative level too – a good case in point being the aforementioned Consultation.
The positive impact that sustainable business can have on customers, employees and the environment is something that Ecosurety have long been believers in. It is for this reason that I’ve stepped up to the role of Sustainability Ambassador for the IoD, as I seek to encourage others in the South West to consider the benefits to operating business in a more sustainable way.
As a region, the South West is regarded as something of a trailblazer when it comes to sustainable business. From ethical banking to sustainable food, the region offers examples of some pioneering and highly successful business models where the focus isn’t simply directed towards profit but people and planet too.
Ultimately embracing more sustainable business practice – one that regards social and environmental impact as important as financial returns - is a business model for the future. You only need to look at the success of the South West region for evidence of this.