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“National environmental policies are blind to the positive impact of the Circular Economy”

Jul 13, 2021

CEO Comtek Network Systems UK Ltd and chair, the DBF

The nation has been forced to believe that new is far superior to old.

We are demolishing all our historic old buildings and replacing them with new substandard ones. We are throwing away all perfectly good older electronics equipment, replacing it without any real benefit, with new.

We never consider the real social, economic and environmental costs of our actions.

Very few government policies are focusing on the detrimental environmental impact of unnecessary excessive manufacturing and consumerism.

Recent research by University College London (UCL) discovered the following:

• Refurbishment of social housing can deliver significant improvements in energy, environmental and health performance, which can lead to cost savings and improved living standards for residents.

• Refurbishment can have lower overall lifetime costs than demolition and construction and can cause less disruption to communities and residents.

• Engaging residents in regeneration decisions is crucial and has resulted in the successful refurbishment of a number of social housing properties.

The circular economy is an area that government policymakers do not promote enough. Manufacturers should be forced to design their products so that they can be repurposed, repaired and recycled.

Encouraging refurbishment of homes rather than demolition can create highly paid skilled jobs within the community and especially help smaller construction businesses to flourish. Planning policies must also adapt themselves encouraging refurbishment and penalising the demolition of perfectly adaptable housing.

Our government can easily force the manufacturers to make it easier for small independent maintenance businesses to repair their products, by providing them with technical information and spare components.

The Government should introduce right to repair legislation enshrined within the law.

They must introduce zero rate VAT on repairs, maintenance and refurbishment, hence making it more attractive to end-users and consumers to opt into maintenance and reuse rather than throw away and buy new.

I realise the UK and Welsh governments are genuinely committed to Net Zero and have some very impressive environmental policies.

However, their lack of understanding of the circular economy and its powerful positive impact on achieving their Net Zero aspiration is a let-down.

Refurbishment, repairs, reuse has to be an integral part of all environmental legislation and policies of both the UK and Welsh governments.

Bold governmental action is urgently required to face up to those large developers and manufacturers that are more interested in making massive profits by disregarding climate change and the long-term damage to the environment.

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