Making the business case for resource recovery.


Resource Recovery from Waste, School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [Email]


People altered the biophysical environment upon which they depend through the overexploitation of resources and growing waste generation. Action is urgently needed to return the resource economy within planetary boundaries and safeguard human well-being, by realising an increasingly closed-loop system that maintains values of materials and products within a sustainable circular economy. Innovative technologies and business models must be developed and implemented, requiring convincing "business cases" for industry and government; why should they be interested in adopting circular, resource recovery practices? Despite multi-dimensional challenges facing people and their environment, and the ability of resource recovery to contribute to restoring environment, society and economy, arguments for circular practices are often overly focused on economic aspects. Economic growth is not a panacea and this article supports the preparation of better arguments by presenting expert insights on 37 themes to consider for a resource recovery business case. The most important themes cover 1) Economic, social, environmental and technical value of resources and 2) Regulatory change; focusing business cases on these is likely to deliver positive impacts regarding all identified themes. The article synthesises the old "growth will solve it-" with a new "multi-dimensional challenges and solutions" paradigm, suggesting that resource recovery should support multi-dimensional growth to partly redistribute economic benefits to social and environmental values through the preservation of technical, functional value of materials and products. Writing successful business cases for resource recovery requires inter-disciplinary collaboration, and sustained effort to complete and translate business cases into measurable impacts through changed practices outside academia.


Circular economy,Growth,Multi-dimensional value,Natural resource extraction,Sustainability,Waste management,