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7. Economy and resources

7. Economy and resources

Devon’s economy: just, smart, circular, regenerative and rich in natural capital

Humans rely on planet Earth to meet our needs. It provides all our raw materials from the air we breathe, to food and iron ore for example, which we process producing waste products. But Earth’s ability to provide for us and to absorb our waste is not without limits. 

In recent history we have made products, used them and then discarded them without recovering all of the materials they are made from or questioning the extent to which we really need them in the first place. This linear economy exceeds planetary boundaries because it is ecologically damaging as well as carbon intensive. This consumption and disposal behaviour creates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during manufacture, transport to the consumer and from disposal itself. How the economy functions influences GHG emissions associated with every section of this Plan. Of note to this section of the Plan is that 9% of the GHG emissions produced in Devon are emitted by waste disposal activity.  

In addition to the GHG emissions produced in Devon’s boundary, our consumption habits also contribute to emissions overseas due to our purchasing of goods produced abroad. These emissions represent over half of the GHG emissions produced in Devon. This is discussed further at Section 3.2 “Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Devon”. 

But we can use resources better, for example recycling aluminium drink cans saves up to 95% of the energy needed to make aluminium from its raw materials.

If Devon is proactive and innovative, we can benefit from the opportunities already emerging to shape a new model of resource use and economic organisation. Whilst there are excellent examples of innovation already in Devon and the southwest, Devon’s anchor institutions could engage further with the increasing interest in Devon for commissioning and procurement to extend its local positive impact. Organisations could be more proactive in nurturing local, sustainable service and product supply chains and place higher value on the carbon and social impact of procurement decisions, including supporting the circular economy. The “community wealth building” model focuses on the purchasing power of organisations that are unable to relocate due to their inherent function, such as councils, hospitals and educational establishments, known as “anchor institutions”. It is also referred to as the “Cleveland Model” due to its inception in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

We must ensure that people and organisations in Devon are well positioned and opportunities are available to them to develop skills to take up these opportunities with the access to the finance they need to do so.

7.1 What needs to happen?

7.2 Opportunities and Benefits

7.3 Key Outcomes

7.4 Goal: We avoid creating waste through consuming less, sharing and repairing

7.5 Goal: Enhance materials captured for recycling and reduce emissions from waste treatment

7.6 Goal: Improve data on commercial waste management in order to effectively reduce it.

7.7 Goal: Reduce potent greenhouse gases given off by decomposing biodegradable wastes 

7.8 Goal: Procurement by organisations in Devon will realise its full potential to accelerate the transition to a net-zero

7.9 Goal: Devon’s society and economy are just, smart, circular and rich in natural capital

7.10 Goal: Ensure we have the skills in Devon to deliver net-zero and the training opportunities for people to make the transition

7.11 Goal: Increase access to finance to accelerate reaching net-zero, embracing innovative mechanisms and allowing citizens to invest in their communities 

7.12 Action Summary Table

7.13 References

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