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Tackle over-consumption urges Suez

One of the UK’s leading recycling and waste management companies has called on policy makers to support moves to reduce over-consumption by households.

Suez Recycling and Recovery UK argues that 60% to 80% of negative impacts on the planet come from household consumption. ‘As the new UK government considers its priorities for the coming year, it has a chance to consider policy that can address this growing issue – helping to conserve energy and, ultimately, reduce household bills at a time of rising costs,’ the company says.

It has published a report, the ‘Stuff of Life’, that sets out a roadmap to address the issues caused by consumerism and to outline ways businesses and the public sector can tackle over-consumption. For example, government policies that promote refills and reuse are seen as an integral step to minimising excess waste. Such measures are already operating successfully in France, Spain and Austria, it notes, where ‘refills’ in supermarkets are becoming commonplace.

‘With UK consumers buying more new clothes than any other European country, and throwing away over one million tonnes per year, businesses also hold responsibility when it comes to our consumption habits,’ Suez argues. It calls on businesses to review their business models to reduce unnecessary over-consumption, for example mainstreaming alternative services including subscription and rental options to reduce fast fashion. 

Suez ceo John Scanlon says society has to make a collective effort to make a difference. ‘It is not just the responsibility of the consumer, action from governments around the world is needed to ensure consumption-based emissions are included within climate targets. Businesses also hold significant responsibility when it comes to this growing issue and need to step up and update their models to reduce unnecessary consumption and waste.’

Other steps recommended to reduce overconsumption include:

  • Fiscal incentives to encourage reuse, repair and renovation
  • Targets for percentage of reuse required and policy support to address high start-up costs
  • Licensing, trading standards and environmental health teams to identify barriers to reuse / refill schemes
  • Removing best before dates on appropriate items to reduce food waste

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