The circular energy economy

Invest. Save. Repeat.

Food waste around the world is responsible for approximately 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions - meaning if it were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the United States.

United Nations statistics show around a third of all food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted every year, and the significant economic, social and environmental impact means waste has to be a big factor to address as we look to make continued human development more sustainable.

 

Waste management

This kind of waste and inefficiency is not just limited to food, it's seen in many areas of human life and business, which is why a move to a circular economy has been gaining traction in recent years.

The European Union has been looking at ways to improve its environmental, social and economic performance through a move to a more circular economy. It's looking at a whole range of initiatives such as waste prevention, eco-design and re-use of goods, by-products and materials, predicting it could save EU companies €600 billion while reducing total annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4%.

While the EU is looking at high-level, continent-wide initiatives, there are many ways businesses can take their own steps to be more circular and improve environmental and economic performance.

 

Circular businesses

Just like food is wasted at a significant level, energy is too. If businesses were to optimise energy use and increase efficiency, they could save anywhere up to 35% on a building's energy costs. An energy audit can help you see where waste is happening and identify which energy efficient measures could bring about the greatest improvement, for example reactive lighting or a building management system.

 

So how does this lead to a circular business?

The savings made on energy bills by investing in the initial efficiency measures can be reinvested to generate even greater savings in the longer term. The savings from LED lighting can be invested into smarter building solutions which can then help finance investment in onsite energy generation which means your business can not only cut energy costs further, it also gives you the potential to generate more revenue by selling excess energy back to the grid, or installing chargers for electric vehicles.

Moving the conversation from the plant room to the boardroom then becomes so much easier - investment in sustainable technologies is more about ROI than CSR, meaning you have at least two reasons to make that change.

Onsite generation can be done through CHP (combined heat and power), an energy-efficient technology that captures heat that would otherwise be wasted, avoiding the need to generate both independently. Other options include solarheat pumps and biomass. Energy can also be stored onsite in batteries so you can use your own power during peak demand times thereby avoiding the highest power costs.

So as the wider world looks towards a more circular future, now is a good time to set your business on its own circular path.