London’s 6th annual Circular Economy Week kicks off again on Monday 16 October with an event in County Hall featuring speakers including Ann Pettifor, political economist and author of The Case for the Green New Deal, as well as Sonia Brown, Vice President of Government Engagement at Visa; Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance at DESNZ; and Shirley Rodrigues, London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy.
Hosted by ReLondon, in partnership with Visa and supported by the Mayor of London, Circular Economy Week coincides this year with ReLondon announcing new business support, including grants and training, for small businesses in London wanting to explore and scale circular business models such as those involving repair services, product rentals and materials reuse.
Made possible by UK government funding of £1.4m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), the support is available to a wide community of both circular and more traditional (linear) businesses, with a focus on diverse founders.
The first round of support is aimed at small businesses on the high street who want to test circular business models for the first time, in particular businesses including food and drink establishments, grocers and dry good retailers, as well as hairdressers, dry cleaners and more.
Business owners can sign up to a ‘Business beyond waste’ masterclass this autumn to learn how to translate circular principles into viable business opportunities. This will be followed with a round of grant-funding in February 2024: grants of £5k-£10k will be available for around 20 high street businesses to put their circular plans into action, supported at every step by ReLondon’s business transformation team.
Through this support, ReLondon aims to create a blueprint for circular high streets, gathering stories and lessons about how to create more sustainable, resilient neighbourhoods which can then be replicated across London.
The second round of business support will be grant funding to innovative businesses that are helping London transition to a circular food system. Grants of £5k-£15k can be applied for from early October until the deadline of 13th November. London-based circular businesses are encouraged to apply if they have an existing, operational solution that they would like to scale, aimed at reducing food waste; creating value from food waste or by-products; or providing Londoners with access to locally grown, sustainable food.
The announcement comes during ReLondon’s sixth Circular Economy Week, a week-long showcase and celebration of the progress being made by cities, businesses and governments towards a circular economy.
Visa is the headline partner for Circular Economy Week this year, as it is championing the transition to a circular economy by supporting small businesses to leverage circular recommerce business models such as resale, repair, rental, refill, return and redistribution.
Visa’s aim is to encourage people to make more sustainable lifestyle choices by providing education, encouraging action, and imagining new products and services.
Wayne Hubbard, CEO of ReLondon, said, “We’re delighted to announce this new business support package during Circular Economy Week, as it demonstrates yet again that tackling the climate crisis is a shared responsibility between national and local governments, citizens and business – and this sixth annual Circular Economy Week is a powerful showcase of how circular economy can help navigate the current cost of living crisis, potentially safeguard jobs and communities and deliver against carbon reduction targets by saving materials and energy.”
Sonia Brown, Vice President of Government Engagement at Visa, said, “We are committed to empowering small businesses including helping them embrace the circular economy, and at scale. We have the network, data and insights to unlock circular commerce opportunities to drive growth, and our partnership with Circular Economy Week is a key part of championing this effort.”
Shirley Rodrigues, London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy said, “Moving towards a circular economy can make a huge difference in building cities’ resilience against the climate and cost of living crises, while driving green growth. This new package of support will help small high street businesses develop more sustainable ways of operating, and reduce food waste. I encourage businesses to get involved in Circular Economy Week and change how they work for the better.”