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Blog: Working together to create a future-fit city circular Peterborough

18th November 2016

Driving to work along Fletton Parkway around Peterborough, I join fellow rush hour commuters travelling to work. With a coffee by my side that I picked up enroute, I pass the Ikea distribution centre on my left and the new houses on Hammonds Drive to my right. It occurs to me that all around me every day, we’re using incredible amounts of ‘stuff’. Stuff to build and furnish new homes. Stuff shipped around the UK to expectant customers. Stuff in disposable packaging like the coffee steaming in my cup holder beside me. We keep making more and more stuff and truthfully we expect it. We rely on it.

The United Kingdom is rapidly growing with over 64 million people living here and the Office of National Statistics expects us to grow to over 70 million by 2027 and as more people live around us we are using more and more stuff and packaging. In the media we see ‘overshoot day’ when our need for resources outstrips its ability to regenerate them with us currently using the equivalent of 1.6 planets a year to sustain our hunger for stuff.

I continue driving to the west of Peterborough and the Fengate industrial estate next to the old power station. Viridor has recently opened an Energy Recovery Facility in the city, and it puts non-recyclable waste to good use. We can squeeze energy out of the material that is in black rubbish bags and transforms it into electricity, enough to power around 16,000 homes (or 15% of the city). But we must recognise that this isn’t the answer! Whilst we are able to recover energy from our waste rather than sending it to landfill, we must first concentrate on recycling unwanted products and packaging so that they can be used to make more things.

With resources around the Globe under increasing pressure and starting to strain under this demand we need to start thinking differently about how we live on Earth. Last week a collection of the city’s businesses came together to kick-off an initiative to enable Peterborough to work together and maximise our natural resources and reduce the environmental impact of our actions. It was clear that business leaders really cared about ‘doing things the right way’ and we have committed to helping develop a more Circular Peterborough. I think to myself what this ‘circular city’ could look like? As one example, I see manufacturers working in partnership with recyclers like ourselves to understand how to make products that are totally recyclable and from recycled material as a start…

Peterborough is a real success story with ever improving connectivity to London by rail and the rest of the England along with expanding with more and more people wanting to make it their home; however I can see that in the next 50 years we will need to work more collaboratively to preserve our resources. I am hugely optimistic that this commitment will help to put acting more responsibly firmly on our radar and to use our resources more efficiently. Try thinking about how you could reduce or reuse or recycle more the next time you order a coffee or buy a sandwich for lunch.

Paul Rowland

Regional Manager

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