A new framework is being rolled out to help Greater Manchester businesses and residents reduce waste and create a more circular economy.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Sustainable Consumption Plan (SCP), which was approved on 24 June 2022, supports the region’s five-year Environment Plan which was launched at the GM Green Summit in 2019.
The SCP highlights what is needed to move Greater Manchester’s businesses to a model that relies more on reusing and recycling materials. It also aims to empower residents to make more sustainable lifestyle choices to help to achieve the region’s ambitions of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.
The plan outlines four priorities to do this:
Moving to a circular economy
The focus needs to be on moving away from a throw-away society and focusing on reusing and recycling. The GMCA will encourage innovation through a collaborative business-to-business platform. Bringing businesses across the city region together will help find ways to reduce the amount of waste produced, starting with the textiles industry.
In another example, GMCA’s waste contractor, SUEZ UK, is already leading the way by repairing and upcycling household items which would otherwise have been thrown away at the household waste recycling centres. At more than 5000m2, the Renew Hub in Greater Manchester is the UK’s newest and largest reuse operation.
Managing waste sustainably
To manage waste more sustainably, the SCP plan will use data to establish where waste is coming from across the city region. This knowledge and data will help to change the models and behaviours of businesses and households to enable our city-region to manage waste sustainably.
Reducing food waste
More than 70% of food waste in Greater Manchester is currently being created domestically. With the current cost of living crisis, leaders want to ensure no food is wasted. New proposals consider how to cut down the amount of food waste from households, alongside launching schemes to increase homegrown food and composting, while redistributing unwanted or unused food to those facing financial difficulties. This approach seeks to make Greater Manchester’s food consumption more affordable and sustainable while ensuring more people have access to healthy food.
Moving to sustainable lifestyles
Greater Manchester leaders believe every person in the region has a role to play and can live more sustainably. This means individuals reducing the amount of waste they produce and their carbon footprint by choosing products that are environmentally and socially responsible.
Greater Manchester will continue to run campaigns that educate people, raise awareness and encourage everyone to make more sustainable life choices. This new plan hopes the people of Greater Manchester will play their part in creating a greener, less wasteful future.
Cllr Neil Emmott, GMCA’s lead for green city region and waste & recycling, said: “As our society faces more economic pressures, we need to help people and businesses reduce avoidable waste, which can also reduce bills. We need to keep products and materials in use for longer to reduce pressure on the environment.
“Globally, we currently extract three times the number of natural resources than we did over 30 years ago. This figure is also expected to more than double by 2060 if we don’t make significant changes now.
“We need to see waste as a design flaw, not part of the process. This means changing how products are made and used in our city region. The public sector can support this by changing the way we buy goods and services, but we need other consumers and producers to play their part.
“This plan gives us a framework to work together on making system-wide changes, beginning with a focus on food, plastics and textiles.
“A huge part of this is supporting our region’s businesses to operate in a way that causes the least amount of waste without impacting their success; moving away from the make, use, dispose model and instead adopting an approach of replacing the use of scarce resources with fully renewable, recyclable or biodegradable materials.
“This needs to involve businesses working together to find the best ways of doing this within their industry.
“We all have to be better joined-up in how we tackle problems around waste. In particular, with the huge pressures people currently face just to feed their families, it’s just not acceptable that we also have a problem with food wastage.
“We need to – and will – explore new ways of ensuring food that would be going to waste is going to those who really need it. This will support our commitment to creating a greener future, but a fairer one too.
“We all have a part to play in making the changes we need so, as a city region, we are more resilient and are living more sustainably and we’ll continue to work hard to create more awareness on how people and businesses can reduce their negative impact on the planet.”
The Greater Manchester SCP Plan will now provide the framework for the region’s key activities to become more sustainable during the coming years.
It will be implemented by a Challenge Group of public, private, third sector and academic partners, formed under the GM Mission-Based Approach, reporting to GMCA via the Green City Region Partnership.
An annual implementation plan will be developed and agreed upon with the Challenge Group to set key targets and priorities for each year.