The Imagine 2050 report tells us that in the UK these three sectors annually generate 13 million tonnes of waste – closing the loop could create an estimated 4.5 billion euros (£4 billion). Meanwhile, population growth, the need to reduce carbon emissions and the contribution of new technologies encourage better use of resources. The development of a more circular economy would allow players in these sectors to meet these challenges and become more independent by producing energy from their waste and recycling it – for example the waste water from their industrial processes.
“Adopting the innovative business models outlined in Imagine 2050 needs to happen now. Long-term planning, minimising waste and more effectively using water, energy and raw materials will help us meet the changing needs of a growing population in a sustainable way. This is at the heart of the circular economy and in Veolia’s DNA," explains Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President Veolia UK and Ireland.
Innovative models in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical & chemical, and food and beverage sectors by 2050
► The manufacturing sector will secure their supply chains by recycling their waste. By 2050, it will be recycled at rates that could reach as much as 100%. Nanotechnology and 3D printing will be embedded into supply chains, enabling more flexibility with production and more efficient use of resources.
"With three billion new middle class consumers anticipated by 2030, new business models must be explored if we are to continue to thrive.” Dr Nick Voulvoulis, Reader in Environmental Technology, Imperial College London.
► Companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors will design more efficiency into their products at the concept stage. A move to individually treating patients rather than illnesses could also become possible, whilst 3D printing technology could enable the production of drugs on a mass scale at a local level, which will save resources.
► The food and beverage sector could reuse the by-products that are currently discarded. New technology will enable better use of energy and help minimise costs. Cultured meats and insects could play a greater role in our diets. Our food products will be more traceable and their quality guaranteed, with greater efficiency in the use of resources.
"We’re already growing enough to feed the future world. We just don’t feed people with it. We don’t need to grow more stuff and we need to stop throwing away the edible stuff that we do grow,” concludes Dr Steve Evans, Director of Research, University of Cambridge.
Patrick O'Meara, Business in the Community
Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia UK and Ireland
Dr Linda Hilton, Innovation and Business Consultant
Andrew Hicks, Strategic Planning & Sustainability, 3M
Thomas Sherifi, Environmental Programmes Manager, BMW
Ravi Krishnamoorthi, Senior VP & Head of Business Applications Services, EMEIA, Fujitsu
Dr Steve Evans, Director of Research, University of Cambridge
> The video presentation of the Imagine 2050 report
> The press release on the Veolia UK site
> Imagine industry in 2050 on the Veolia UK site
> The circular economy for the food industry
> The circular economy on Veolia’s climate blog
> Veolia’s expertise in recovery waste and energy
> Veolia’s #Living Circular