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Eunomia: making the economy work for the environment

A circular economy isn’t just about recycling: it’s about scrutinising all business processes to find opportunities to design out waste and to use resources intelligently. Triodos customer Eunomia is a consultancy at the forefront of efforts to help businesses and governments recognise that resource efficiency can them save money while saving the planet.

Founded in Bristol in 2001 by Dominic Hogg, Eunomia Research & Consulting now has a team of more than 70 staff working out of UK offices in Bristol, London and Manchester, and international offices in New York, Brussels, Copenhagen and Auckland. The company has also expanded the areas on which it advises: its initial focus was on advising on waste management policies, practice and service procurement, but its work now encompasses resource efficiency, renewable energy, air pollution, marine litter, natural capital and environmental fiscal reform.

Eunomia’s influence is international. Its work on plastics in the marine environment has been instrumental in drawing attention to the issue, and they have also helped popularise the idea of deposit refunds on beverage containers to help address litter and increase recycling. Eunomia also supported the European Commission in developing its proposals for new circular economy legislation, which are soon to become EU law.

“We don’t want to be part of a bank that is focused only on the returns it makes without concerning itself with the effects of what it funds.”

Dominic Hogg, Founder of Eunomia

As well as advising on major policy initiatives, Eunomia’s research often focuses on solving more specific issues. The company was commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau to examine how circular economy principles could be integrated into the furniture supply chain. Britain throws away 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture every year, and 80-90% of discarded furniture in Europe is incinerated or sent to landfill. Eunomia explored opportunities across the lifecycle of furniture, from eco-design to incentivised return, as well as the potential of alternative ownership models.

As Dominic points out, “There is a long list of potential benefits to developing a more circular furniture supply chain. Some of the benefits are environmental, such as significantly reducing reliance on the extraction and input of raw materials, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a result. But there are economic benefits too: a more circular supply chain promotes growth and jobs in emerging service areas such as repair, reuse, re-manufacture and leasing.”

Eunomia

Dr Dominic Hogg, Founder of Eunomia

Eunomia also provides direct, practical advice on resource and energy efficiency to businesses in the UK and internationally, across many business sectors. It provides a wide range of services, from strategic support and policy ‘scans’, through sustainable procurement and eco-design, to operational efficiency reviews, tools and training. Clients include large corporates such as Interface, Subway, RWE Npower, Ball (packaging), and Marks and Spencer but also include many SMEs through several business support programmes.

Eunomia aims to practice what it preaches, encouraging resource and energy efficiency in its own activities. For example, the company has established a carbon fund that assigns a high damage cost to the CO2 emitted as a result of its travel and energy use. Rather than paying into an offsetting scheme, the company uses this money to fund projects that have social and carbon benefits. Recently, these have included restoring an ancient woodland in North Somerset, with staff volunteering their time to plant trees; and supporting the work of Fare Share, which redistributes food that would otherwise go to waste to those in need. Recently, the company funded the installation of a water fountain near the company’s Bristol office to encourage people to reuse water bottles rather than throw them away.

It stands to reason that the company also cares about the kind of bank that it uses. As Dominic puts it, “We’re committed to a form of development that is truly sustainable, one that recognises the inter-connectedness of things, and in particular, the dependence of our economy on healthy ecosystems. We don’t want to be part of a bank that is focused only on the returns it makes without concerning itself with the effects of what it funds. Triodos – with its commitment to make money work positively for people and planet – is the obvious choice.”

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