Study: Circular economy could unlock more than a quarter million jobs in London by 2030

More than 250,000 new jobs could be created in London if the capital’s businesses, citizens, and policymakers work together to expand the city’s circular economy, according to research published by a waste and resource management partnership between the London boroughs and Mayor of London.

The ReLondon group has this morning unveiled research which claims there are significant job creation and wider economic gains to be made by growing London’s circular economy, arguing that previous modeling in this area has failed to account for the full range of jobs that could be unlocked by the “circular transition”.

The group has calculated that 284,000 new “circular jobs” could be created if the Mayor’s 2030 environmental goals are met, including the target to increase municipal recycling rates to 65 per cent. Such a scenario would nearly double the number of people employed in the capital’s circular economy, which currently sits at around 231,000.

The report argues that previous job creation predictions for the circular economy have been conservative because they have narrowly focused on the waste sector. It defines a “core circular job” as one in any business that ensures “materials cycles are closed, with materials being cycled for as long as possible at the highest possible value”.

Examples cited include businesses involved in activities such as reuse and repair, renting and leasing of products, and recycling of materials and resources.

Wayne Hubbard, CEO at ReLondon, said the circular economy was not confined to one sector, but encompassed an entire system of products, materials, and services. “It’s not just the reuse and recycling sector, but rather a system touching on almost every aspect of our lives and encompassing a whole raft of crucial activities and jobs that underpin them,” he said. “This is why it’s so important to London’s low carbon goods and services sector.”

On top of more than a quarter of a million “core circular jobs”, ReLondon’s analysis calculates that meeting the Mayor’s 2030 environmental goals could unlock a further 94,000 indirect jobs and 36,000 “enabling” jobs in circular economy supply chains.

Hubbard stressed that business leaders would have to work with government and citizens to grow demand for products and services that allow people to waste less and reuse, repair, share and recycle more.

“Transitioning to a low carbon circular economy will require action at all levels of society, from national government to consumers, businesses, and the education sector – but this new report shows that the job creation made possible by evolving to circular models can’t be ignored,” he said. “It could provide a real boost to the capital, helping us recover from the pandemic, navigate the current cost of living crisis and potentially safeguard jobs and communities.”

Elsewhere, the research stresses the scircular transition would open up significant employment opportunities for London’s young working population, who have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and are higher levels of unemployment than their peers in other parts of the UK.

Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy, welcomed the report’s findings. “Tackling the climate emergency presents a significant opportunity to create new jobs and support businesses driving the transition to a resource-efficient circular economy,” she said. “The Mayor is supporting this through the Green New Deal fund and his Green Skills Academy which includes a focus on skills which drive activity towards the circular economy and circular jobs.”

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