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Think green and create 450 000 jobs

A fresh approach in the UK to the repair, reuse, recycling and remanufacture of products could create more than 450 000 jobs across the country by 2035, according to a new report.

The Green Alliance (GA), an influential independent think tank and charity, says its research shows that driving ‘circular economy’ in the UK could create more than 300 000 new jobs in remanufacturing and 30 000 in repair work within the next 15 years. A third of these jobs would be in lower skilled occupations that currently have higher unemployment rates, while positions in skilled trades and administrative and procurement roles would also benefit. This could help to replace jobs lost to automation and offshoring. 

Its report, ‘Levelling up through circular economy jobs’, is an update of a previous report from January 2015. As before, it maintains that an ambitious approach, through investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation would see significant growth in remanufacturing jobs in declining industrial regions. 

GA insists that creating jobs more evenly across the UK is dependent on government ambition. ‘If the UK’s circular economy continues to develop at the existing rate, we project that only 40 000 new jobs will be created across the country to 2035’.

It is urging the Government to back policies to transform the circular economy and create jobs across the UK. These include an ambitious target to halve UK resource use by 2050; increasing consumer demand by zero rating VAT on repairs and refurbishment and supporting workers to move into the circular economy through retraining programmes and career coaching. 

Zoe Avison from GA said: ‘A big programme to avoid unnecessary waste and reclaim the value of materials would not only help consumers but create jobs in communities across the country.’

Case study – Renew shops and Hub, Manchester 

Waste and resources company Suez has partnered with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to open three ‘Renew’ shops, in Oldham, Salford and Trafford. The shops sell pre-loved household items – including furniture, hand tools and sports equipment – donated by residents at 15 recycling sites. A ‘Renew Hub’ is also being developed to include ‘repair pods’ for items to be repaired and up-cycled, such as bikes and electrical and white goods.

The hub will look to employ and train local people and volunteers, and enhance skills and opportunities related to the green economy. The hub will also supply the Renew shops with goods and provide a space for online sales. The shops and hub have thus far seen the creation of 10 green jobs with more anticipated.

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