Q&A with CAP Member: Wayne Hubbard
Briefly describe your background, interests & areas of expertise?
I have a background in waste and resource management, and latterly have become passionate about accelerating the development of a circular economy in London. I have worked for a variety of local government bodies including the Greater London Authority where I headed up the waste policy team, before joining the London Waste and Recycling Board in 2010.
What does circularity in the textiles industry mean to you?
I’m primarily interested in reducing the volume of clothing in circulation, as industry statistics suggest that there are currently at least 80 billion items of clothing in circulation globally – enough to clothe us all several times over. The climate impact that clothing production and consumption has is huge, and could be tackled by more circular approaches like sharing, renting and repairing. And for those times when we actually need to buy new clothes, we need to develop a fully recyclable way of making them so we can use the fibre in today’s clothes to make tomorrow’s.
What does your company/organisation do to bring about circularity (core relevant activities/commitments, highlight short and long term goals, if relevant).
The London Waste and Recycling Board’s Business Plan highlights the circular economy as a key tool to address the climate emergency and particularly its role in reducing consumption-based emissions. Our mission is to make London a global leader in sustainable ways to live, work and prosper by revolutionising our relationship with stuff and helping London waste less and reuse, repair and recycle more.
A city like London has a far bigger carbon impact than just its territorial emissions would suggest: we could all reduce our energy use, swap in sustainable sources, and cut back our transport-related emissions significantly, but that would still leave the emissions associated with the food, textiles, plastics, electricals and other materials such as metals and concrete that we use (and throw away) every day. So the London Waste and Recycling Board works with businesses, citizens and local government in the capital to find achievable ways of reducing our consumption of raw materials and build circularity and resource efficiency into everything we make, buy and use.
Our programmes aim to save 126,000 tonnes of CO2e a year by 2025 and contribute 15% of the additional recycling needed to be on track for London’s recycling target of 65% by 2030. Overhauling the way we think about and manage waste has the potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by almost 3.5 million tonnes a year in 2050.
What made your decision to join the CAP?
Fashion and textiles make a sizeable contribution to London’s total consumption and are a significant proportion of the waste that Londoners create – we can’t create a circular economy without creating a circular textiles industry. The Circular Advisory Panel is an excellent way of creating momentum through collaboration – so I wanted to be a part of it, to see where we can help mobilise change and collaborate most effectively in a city context.
How important is this Circular Advisory Panel approach for preparing a company like WA for the market (i.e. a business starting out with the sole purpose of enabling circularity but entering the market in ‘linear times’)? What do you think it will bring to the company?
See answer above! I hope that I can bring some insight from a city perspective – which is where the majority of global consumption takes place. I think the panel more widely will keep everyone’s ‘eyes on the prize’ and keep circularity in our sights alongside commercial viability.
What do you believe the biggest hurdles/opportunities for transitioning to a new circular business mindset will be, for WA, for the industry?
I think that there is an awful lot of goodwill in the minds of citizens – but we somehow need to convert that into action in partnership with business and government to create the conditions for system change. Awareness of the impact of fashion on the planet is at an all-time high, but so far we’ve seen many brands tinkering around the edges, experimenting with small-scale pilots or introducing schemes which pay lip service to environmental concerns; the challenge now is to make change on a scale that will genuinely reduce the industry’s contribution to the climate emergency.
Name 3 things you think businesses will be doing differently in a circular future.
Recycling, sharing and repairing more.