Economy and resources
- Avoiding waste and creating a circular economy
- Reducing emissions from unavoidable biodegradable waste and wastewater treatment
- Using the purchasing power of Devon’s organisations
- Supporting communities and businesses to transition to net-zero
Historically we have made products, used them and then thrown them away. This behaviour, referred to as the linear economy, creates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during manufacturing, transportation to the customer and disposal. Emissions in Devon resulting from manufacturing and transport are reported in other sections of this Plan. Waste disposal contributes 9% of Devon’s GHG emissions.1 Our purchasing of goods produced abroad creates emissions overseas which represent 39% of the total emissions Devon is responsible for.
The linear economy is also ecologically damaging because the collection of raw materials harms habitats and is water and energy intensive, whilst the disposal of waste requires space and can pollute the environment. The environment’s ability to produce resources and process waste has limits.2 If the whole world lived like we do in the UK, we would need four planets to provide the materials we use and to process the waste we discard to sustain our lifestyle indefinitely.3
This section of the Plan describes what needs to happen to achieve a socially-just and net-zero carbon economy that has the potential to create up to 700,000 jobs in low-carbon sectors across England by 2030.4 It introduces goals for overcoming issues identified during the Thematic Hearings and the public Call for Evidence as barriers to achieving net-zero. Actions are then proposed to achieve the goals.
7.2 The Change Needed
Traditionally, the concept of sustainable development – activity that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own need – has given equal weight to the economy, society and environment. Yet the economy must operate within environmental limits and meet everyone’s needs more equally – otherwise sustainability cannot be achieved.
Doughnut Economics is a visual representation of a new way of thinking about sustainable development (Figure 7.1). The outer edge of the doughnut is the ecological ceiling – the environmental limit – split into nine categories. The inner edge of the doughnut is the social foundation – the limit above which our twelve needs are being met. The economy must function within the boundaries of the social foundation and the ecological ceiling to be environmentally safe and providing for everyone’s needs. The goal of economies has been to continue growing, but when the goal is changed to meeting the human rights of every person within the means of our life-giving planet, economies can become agnostic about growth – what we need are economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow.5
The creation of a sustainable economy will be complex, yet there are changes that can be prioritised to accelerate this transition.
We need to:
- Avoid waste and create a circular economy though purchasing less, repairing, sharing, reusing, buying second hand, and recycling
- Reduce emissions from unavoidable biodegradable waste and wastewater treatment
- Use the purchasing power of Devon’s organisations to benefit the environment and local communities
- Support communities and businesses to transition to net-zero
These are described in more detail below.
7.2.1 Avoid waste and create a circular economy
Household waste collected in Devon in 2019/20 totalled 516kt.10 The amount of commercial waste collected within the area administered by Devon County and Torbay councils is 560kt.11 An estimate for construction, demolition and excavation waste within the same area is 1,206kt.7
We can minimise waste creation and keep resources in circulation in the economy for longer, by implementing the waste hierarchy (Figure 7.2) – purchasing less, reusing and repairing what we already have, and by recycling and recovering materials and energy.
Reducing how many things we buy avoids the GHG emissions associated with their production and disposing of them. Repairing items rather than replacing them helps to extend their lifetime, which avoids the need to buy something new. Devon already has 14 community Repair Cafes which help people repair items.8
Many of us own items we rarely use, such as DIY tools, camping equipment and a car. We would require fewer items if we shared more or transitioned from ownership to leasing for example by using libraries instead of buying a book or using a car club instead of owning a car.9 Devon already has good examples of sharing practices, such as The Share Shed in South Hams, which offers over 350 items to be borrowed, and car-sharing business Co Cars in Exeter.
Buying second-hand goods reduces waste and also minimises costs. Online auction and trading platforms have become popular for selling-on unwanted items, as are second-hand stores and charity shops. Platforms such as Freecycle enable people to give away lower value items for free, and many of Devon’s 22 Household Waste Recycling Centres have resale areas where unwanted items brought for disposal are rescued and offered for sale at minimal costs.
Goods that are no longer required need to be recycled. The average recycling and composting rate of waste from households across the Devon County, Torbay and Plymouth City council areas in 2019/20 was 56%, 40% and 34% respectively. This makes Devon County Council’s recycling performance the second-best of any county in England.10
Government estimates that the recycling rate of commercial waste is between 34 and 40%.11 The latest estimates (2009) suggest that 87% of construction, demolition and excavation waste is recycled in the area administered by Devon County Council.7
There is a national ambition to recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035 in England. Municipal waste refers to household waste, as well as waste generated by businesses that is similar in nature and composition. The latter will include a significant proportion of waste that is not collected by local authorities. However, the CCC suggests that 70% of municipal waste must be recycled by 2025.21 To achieve 70%, Devon would need to recycle at least an additional 59,000 tonnes a year.12 Given that new reprocessing facilities usually take about five years to become operational from securing funding, owing to the need to consult communities, obtain planning permission and receive environmental permits, 70% by 2025 is not achievable. Additionally, demand for recycled materials needs to increase to create a stronger market, otherwise stockpiling of the recyclable materials would occur. This will require national government intervention. Therefore, whilst Devon is ready for the challenge given government support, setting a target more ambitious than the national ambition for recycling is unrealistic.
The Devon Climate Emergency partnership accepts that adopting a later municipal waste recycling target than that proposed by the CCC means that the greenhouse gas emissions trajectory show in Figure 7.4 will be slightly delayed, the emissions from waste are small in the context of Devon’s total emissions and the partnership is therefore optimistic that greenhouse gas reduction projections will be exceeded in other sectors to make-up the shortfall.
In 2019 Devon stopped landfilling all but a very small fraction of waste collected from households and businesses by local authorities. Waste is now either recycled, composted or used for energy recovery. Landfilling of some waste collected by commercial waste carriers from businesses does still occur.
Completing the circle
For the economy to become truly circular, products need to be designed and manufactured so that they can be easily repaired, reused and recycled into new products. But there’s also a behaviour element – citizens and businesses need to implement circular economy principles otherwise recyclable or repairable items could always end up in the ‘black bin’ (Figure 7.3).
7.2.2 Reduce emissions from unavoidable biodegradable waste and wastewater treatment
Biodegradable wastes, such as food and sewage, produce methane when they break down in lower oxygen conditions, as is usually the case in landfill and wastewater treatment plants. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. For net-zero emissions to be achieved by 2050, the CCC recommend that avoidable food waste must be reduced by 20% by 2025, relative to 1990, and no biodegradable wastes should enter landfill after 2025.21 The CCC also recommends that wastewater treatment plants achieve a reduction in methane and nitrous oxide (a further greenhouse gas released from some biological treatments of wastewater) emissions of least 20% by 2050.
7.2.3 Use the purchasing power of Devon’s organisations
Anchor institutions (organisations that can’t relocate, such as councils, hospitals and educational establishments) need to nurture local, sustainable supply chains by placing higher value on the carbon and social impact of procurement decisions. This needs to include implementing the principles of the waste hierarchy and the circular economy.
7.2.4 Support communities and businesses to transition to net-zero
All businesses will need to change their behaviours to reduce their emissions. Furthermore, some sectors will shrink whilst others will have the opportunity to grow and new sectors will emerge. Devon will need to support its citizens to learn the skills needed for a net-zero economy and ensure the transition to new industries is socially inclusive.
Households, businesses and public organisations will need to access finance to invest in the changes required for the transition to a net-zero Devon. A large, sustained low-carbon investment of £50 billion annually will be required between 2030 and 2050 across the UK, up from £10 billion in 2020. That compares to total investment in the UK of around £390 billion in 2019.13 New innovations in business models must be encouraged alongside green finance products, municipal bonds, crowd funding, and community investment opportunities.
7.3 Greenhouse Gas Outcomes
Figure 7.4 shows Devon’s net GHG emissions arising from the waste sector in the context of Devon’s total GHG emissions. Only the waste emissions are shown as the actions relating to the decarbonisation of the wider economy relate to emissions arising within other sections of this Plan (e.g. transport, buildings and agriculture). Net-emissions from waste in 2019 were 0.6Mt CO2e. The Figure also shows the projected reduction trajectories for these to 2050 as a result of the delivery of the CCC’s Further Ambition Scenario aided by the actions in this Plan. Through the activities identified in this Plan, by 2050, Devon’s emissions from waste are expected to fall to 0.2Mt CO2e per year. These will become net-zero through activities that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
7.4 Other Opportunities and Benefits
- Community initiatives to improve resource efficiency, such as Repair Cafes, can help boost community cohesion and reduce social isolation.
- Will position the UK to better address resource security issues in the future.
- More efficient resource use will save Devon’s businesses money, allowing them to invest further in staff or technology.
- More value retained in local communities.
- Employee turnover reduced – employees prefer to work for socially and ecologically responsible companies with ethical practices.14
- The net-zero carbon economy across Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall (The Great South West) is expected to deliver a £45 billion boost to the economy and create 190,000 jobs by 2035.
7.5 Devon’s Goals to Meet Net-Zero
Devon has seven goals relating to Economy and Resources for how we achieve net-zero.
7.5.1 Goal EA – A Culture of ‘Enoughness’ is Created
Purchasing new goods is encouraged by advertising and engrained in our economic system. There is a deep cultural shift required to move away from buying things out of want towards only purchasing items when we truly need to.
We need to create a culture of “enoughness” which makes it normal to share resources, lease instead of own, swap, repair, buy second hand, reuse and recycle.
Making it Happen
Empowering citizens and businesses
We all need to become ‘citizen-consumers’, who demand more sustainable goods and services, thus sending strong signals to producers to change their practices. This must also include a transition towards people prioritising the enjoyment of experiences, such as the arts, time in nature, continuing education, community celebrations and self-care, over material consumption as a route to happiness. These experiences and services are an economic opportunity for Devon and the partnership must facilitate this.
Enabling community action
An important part of enabling waste reduction and reuse is empowering communities with skills to repair, share and swap items themselves.
Devon’s Community Action Group (CAG) Network supports communities to develop projects and organise events to reduce waste and promote sustainable living, such as repair cafes, food surplus cafes, refill campaigns, community food larders, community composting and clothes swaps.15 Groups receive training on health and safety, managing volunteers and communicating effectively. CAG is currently focused in Mid Devon and Teignbridge and projects like this should be extended across Devon.
Nineteen of the 22 Household Waste Recycling Centres put aside some items for reuse in the on-site shops. There is scope to improve the reuse opportunities through:
- Portable Appliance Testing electrical goods and offering them for sale
- Installing donation stations/drop off points
- Increasing the reuse target at each site
- Working with the operating contractor to improve the quantity and quality of reused items
- Assisting contractor’s staff to recognise sellable goods
- Providing larger shops
- Allowing items to be taken away for repair and onward sale
- Considering online sales
These initiatives are described in the Resource and Waste Management Strategy for Devon and Torbay 2020 – 2030, and the partnership must support the delivery of these ideas.
Support for new models
New business models are being offered to encourage better stewardship of resources. Innovative clothing companies are incentivising end-of-life recycling by offering discounts on subsequent purchases when garments are returned. Others operate leasing arrangements rather than expecting customers to own their products to help the business retain control over materials which can be refurbished or recycled on an ongoing basis to create new products. Electric vehicle manufacturers are offering similar arrangements for battery packs. This demonstrates the principle of the circular economy. We need to help such initiatives spread.
R1. Deliver targeted communication to empower people and businesses to adopt more sustainable consumption habits, prevent waste and shift to a culture of sharing, reusing and recycling.
R2. Support communities to establish waste and resources projects.
R3. Improve the reuse facilities at Household Waste Recycling Centres.
R4. Encourage the enjoyment of low-carbon experiences rather than material consumption.
R5. Support immature industries and new models that have the potential to contribute to delivering net-zero.
Proper Job Community Reuse Centre
The charity aims to keep reusable items from being disposed of by putting them on sale in an “Aladdin’s cave of pre-loved treasures”.
Everything from baths, crockery and clothes to garden furniture and building materials is on sale, often at a fraction of their original cost, helping people to reduce their carbon footprints, by buying second-hand goods rather than new, and to save money at the same time.
Proper Job also offers training and skill sharing sessions to promote the benefits of reusing, recycling and reducing, such as composting workshops.
They also help and encourage other communities to follow their lead.
7.5.2 Goal EB – Most Materials are Recycled
Eliminating GHG emissions from waste by operating a circular economy will require most materials to be recycled.
Making it Happen
Household kerbside collections
Some kerbside recycling collections in Devon offer a less comprehensive service than others, resulting in recyclable materials not being captured and confusion over what can be recycled. Forty-one percent of waste in household black bins in Devon could be recycled through existing kerbside recycling systems.11 Consistent collection services are needed across the County.16 Since 2016, Devon County Council, as the Waste Disposal Authority, has shared 50:50 with the district councils any savings made on waste disposal because of changes made by them to waste collection services. This is helping to bring greater consistency to kerbside collections in Devon. Five of the eight district authorities and Torbay Council now operate an aligned collection, leaving Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Plymouth operating different regimes. These achievements have led to reduced waste arisings and increased recycling rates.11
Restricting residual waste (black bin) capacity by reducing the frequency of collection or bin size, or both, stimulate greater uptake of recycling services. East Devon District Council introduced three-weekly collections in 2017 and now has the highest recycling rate and lowest weight of residual waste per household in Devon.16 Other Waste Collection Authorities in Devon should consider this.
The management of commercial waste is less regulated than household waste nationally and a significant volume is still sent to landfill, having been collected by an unknown number of private waste contractors.16 This results in the carbon footprint of commercial waste being worse than household waste.16 Decisions about what to do with waste are taken by individual businesses, while commercial waste collectors offer services based on demand and profitability. Data on the volume and composition of commercial waste is lacking, which partners should work with government to rectify to aid better management.
The Environment Act (2021) has introduced the requirement for recyclable waste from businesses to be collected separately unless it is not technically or economically viable or would have no environmental benefit. Generally, businesses will reduce costs by recycling more. Waste Collection Authorities are not obliged to provide collection of commercial waste, although some do voluntarily. Waste collection authorities that currently offer commercial waste services should engage with their clients and review their service offering to boost recycling and seek to promote a recycling focused service in order to attract new customers. Additionally, more waste collection authorities in Devon could offer high-performing commercial waste services.16
Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) in Bath, Bristol, Leeds and Aberdeen have established collaborative commercial waste contracts that have increased recycling, reduced waste vehicle movements and minimised costs for businesses through economies of scale. BIDs in Devon (currently Exeter, Plymouth, Tavistock and Torquay) and Chambers of Commerce could replicate this approach.16
Changing the priority from weight to GHGs
The national target for the amount of municipal waste recycled is based on weight. This leads to decisions by local authorities to prioritise the heaviest wastes for recycling which may not be the most carbon intensive. There is an opportunity for partners in Devon to work with government to target the recycling of materials that achieve the greatest GHG saving.17
Encouraging the use of recycled materials
Without a larger market for recycled materials, it will be challenging to increase the recycling rate. Citizens and decision makers in businesses need to choose to purchase recycled goods whenever possible to stimulate demand for, and to increase the financial viability of, recycled materials. But legislation is also driving this change. The Plastic Packaging Tax, which came into force in 2022, applies to the manufacturers and importers of more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging each year that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.18
Design for material recovery
Manufacturers need to take greater responsibility for designing products that support a circular economy by enabling easy disassembly of components and separation of materials for recycling. There is also a need for better information systems to track the materials in use so that they can be recycled and reused at the end of product and service life.
Government intends to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to make the producers of goods responsible for 100% of the cost of managing the waste arising at the end of the products’ life. This will drive a shift in the market towards the production of products that last longer, which can be re-used and repaired more easily, and can be recycled. In 2024 a first phase will focus on packaging. Initially, local authorities will recover their full disposal costs of packaging waste produced by households. Packaging waste from businesses will be incorporated in later phases. From 2025 a producer using easily recycled packaging can expect to pay a lower fee than a producer who uses non-recyclable materials in their packaging.19 EPR schemes for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), batteries and vehicles are expected next. Government will also consider EPR schemes for textiles, mattresses, furniture, some construction and demolition wastes, tyres and fishing gear.20
We must engage positively with government to help ensure the design of the EPR schemes, and similar policy measures, are effective.
R6. Align Devon’s household waste collection services as far as viable.
R7. Consider reducing the frequency or volume of black bin collections.
R8. Commercial waste services to collect a wider variety of separated materials for recycling.
R9. Waste Collection Authorities that do not collect commercial waste to consider offering a high-quality service.
R10. Business Improvement Districts and Chambers of Commerce to consider offering commercial waste management solutions for local businesses.
R11. Raise awareness of the opportunity and benefits from specifying reclaimed and recycled materials.
Needing action beyond Devon
R12. Work with government to incentivise the recycling of materials based on their carbon intensity as well as weight.
R13. Continue to engage with government on the design of the Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.
R14. Work with government to improve commercial waste data.
7.5.3 Goal EC – The Management of Biodegradable Waste Minimises Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Nationally, emissions from waste have fallen by 69% since 1990, due to the UK’s landfill tax (which reduced the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill) and an increase in methane captured at landfill sites.21 Emissions, principally methane, from biodegradable waste in landfill were 6.7% of Devon’s GHG emissions in 2018.1
For net-zero emissions to be achieved by 2050, the CCC recommends that methane must continue to be captured, avoidable food waste must be reduced by 20% by 2025 relative to 1990, and no biodegradable wastes, including food waste, should enter landfill after 2025.21 Unavoidable food waste must become a resource for other industries – for example, waste cooking oil can be used as transport fuel and unwanted bread can be used for brewing.
Wastewater treatment accounts for 0.5% of Devon’s GHG emissions, and just 15% of these are fugitive emissions, mostly methane and nitrous oxide, that escape from pipe connections or manholes.22 The remaining 85% are associated with the electricity used to power the treatment processes, which is addressed in the Energy Supply section of this Plan. The CCC calls for wastewater treatment plants to achieve a reduction in methane and nitrous oxide emissions of 20% by 2050 from 2017 levels.23
Making It Happen
Thirty percent of waste in household residual bins in the Devon County Council area is food waste.11
We all need to act on avoidable and unavoidable food waste. Devon has considerable expertise in programmes to target and reduce food waste. The Devon Authorities Recycling Partnership runs the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, and the Devon Waste Education Programme offers visits and workshops to schools to address all aspects of waste in school. The County also participates in collaboration projects to find new uses for food waste, such as ECOWASTE4FOOD,24 Food and the Circular Economy South West25 and Food Rescue.26 This important work to reduce food waste across the food supply chain needs to continue and be expanded.
Collecting food waste separately from other wastes stops it entering landfill and allows it to be turned into compost, or anaerobically digestated to produce biomethane (that can be used for energy generation, injected directly into the gas grid or used as a vehicle fuel – this could be an important fuel for vehicles that are more difficult to electrify, such as tractors and lorries), and a rich digestate that can be used as a fertilizer. These processes result in lower GHG emissions than landfill and produce useful by-products. All of the waste collection authorities in Devon except Exeter and Plymouth already collect food waste separately. Exeter City Council is in the process of rolling-out a service, which started in November 2021. Government is expected to provide funding for local authorities to develop plans for providing separate collection of food waste for households from 2025.32
The Courtauld Commitment 2030 is a voluntary agreement that enables collaborative action across the entire UK food chain (retailers, hospitality, manufacturers and growers) to deliver farm-to-fork reductions in food waste, water use, and a 50% reduction in GHG emissions against a 2015 baseline.27 We need every food supply-chain business in Devon to sign-up and use the tools available for signatories to act.
In the meantime, communities must be supported to act. They can follow the likes of South Molton and Chudleigh that have set up community fridges to redistribute unwanted food from households and businesses to enable it to be used before it becomes waste, and Devon and Cornwall Food Action and Exeter Food Action that are working to address food waste from local supermarkets. People can use apps like Good to Go, Olio and Karma to save food from becoming waste.
The water sector has committed to reach net-zero by 2030 which will involve reducing fugitive emissions from waste water processing by 60% by 2030 (from a 2018/19 baseline) – well ahead of the CCC’s recommendation of 16% by 2050.28 South West Water already captures biomethane from anaerobic digestion associated with its treatment processes but will be looking to enhance this and the control of nitrous oxide.29
R1. Deliver targeted communication to empower people and businesses to adopt more sustainable consumption habits, prevent waste and shift to a culture of sharing, reusing and recycling.
R2. Support communities to establish waste and resources projects.
R15. Encourage commercial and household waste collections to consider collecting food waste separately.
R16. Help find opportunities for unavoidable wastes within the food supply chain to be used as a resource by others.
R17. Encourage food supply-chain businesses to implement the Courtauld Commitment using the free toolkit.
R18. Enhance the capture of emissions from waste-water treatment.
Countess Wear Wastewater Treatment Works, Exeter
Countess Wear Wastewater Treatment Works treats Exeter’s sewage and wastewater and is one of South West Water’s largest treatment works. The site consumes 8.5 GWh of electricity per year in treating 22,500 m3 of wastewater per day. Most of the electricity consumed by the site is imported via the electricity grid, however 30% of the site’s power needs is supplied by renewable energy embedded on the site itself.
Sewage sludge, which is separated from the liquid wastewater, is fed through an anaerobic digestion process producing methane gas which is used as the fuel for the site’s four ‘combined heat and power’ (CHP) engines. Electricity generated by this process is fed back into the treatment process. The heat is to keep the anaerobic digestion process at a steady 37°C, as well as being used for the site’s hot water needs.
The site also has a 50 kW roof-mounted solar PV array and all this generated power is used by the site.
The anaerobic digestion with CHP and the solar PV array are reducing the site’s carbon emissions by 650 tCO2e per year in comparison to using electricity from the grid.
7.5.4 Goal ED – Procurement by Anchor Institutions Contributes to Net-Zero
Anchor institutions in Devon collectively manage billion-pound budgets and employ a significant proportion of Devon’s population.30 The spending of these organisations and the provision of their services needs to deliver maximum social and environmental benefit to Devon – this concept is known as community wealth building.
Making It Happen
Whilst anchor institutions already aim to get the most value financially, socially and environmentally from their procurement, there are often budget constraints pushing them to put the up-front financial cost first. This can lead to using larger providers based outside the area. Whilst larger providers may be able to offer lower prices, their employment activity and reinvestment of profits happens elsewhere and therefore the contract represents a financial leak from the local economy. The long supply chains can also be carbon intensive. But with concerted effort, change is possible. Anchor institutions in Lancashire increased spending with local firms by £74m in Preston between 2013 and 2017 and £200m across Lancashire.31
Working with locally-owned companies can achieve economic multiplier effects, as wages and profits are more likely to be spent within Devon by resident employees and shareholders, and supply chains are shortened, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, community organisations, cooperatives and forms of municipal ownership are more economically generative for the local economy than large or public limited companies. Anchor institutions can help establish new, democratically-operated businesses to provide local services, particularly where the local supply market is limited. In Preston this approach has been used in the catering, digital and tech sectors.31
There is significant interest from community organisations in Devon in this approach. For example: Local Spark Torbay and New Prosperity Devon are already encouraging community wealth building approaches with some anchor institutions; Supply Devon is creating an online system to help Devon organisations find local suppliers to buy better, support the local economy and reduce carbon emissions; and various community energy companies are selling electricity to anchor institutions, having received assistance with start-up funding since 2011.
Whilst there are excellent examples of innovation already in Devon, anchor institutions should be more proactive in nurturing local, sustainable service and product supply chains and placing higher value on the carbon and social impact of procurement decisions that support the circular economy and build community wealth.
R19. Anchor institutions to embed local social and environmental value further into tendering procedures.
R20. Anchor institutions to support community-owned companies to provide goods and services back to those institutions.
7.5.5 Goal EE – Devon’s Economy Seizes the Net-Zero Opportunity
New industries will be needed to meet net-zero, as recognised by government’s ambition for the UK to be the birthplace of the Green Industrial Revolution.32 Devon has world-class expertise in environment and green technologies to facilitate the transition and benefit from the opportunity to create new jobs and local value. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW), which covers Devon and Somerset, has put clean and inclusive growth opportunities at the centre of its Local Industrial Strategy.33 These include:
- A high-tech electronic and photonics cluster around Torbay and engineering in Plymouth
- A marine cluster within Plymouth including specialist research organisations
- A cluster of climate and environmental science expertise in Exeter including Europe’s most powerful supercomputer at the Met Office
- Clean energy associated with technical development for offshore renewables
In addition to these high-profile opportunities, Devon’s entrepreneurial business community needs to be supported to innovate and develop new low-carbon products and services across all sectors.
Making It Happen
Start-ups and immature industries will need support for research and development, to bring their ideas to market and to grow their enterprises to a sustainable level. Offers of finance, training and external expertise are required on aspects such as legal matters, marketing, procurement and finding premises and land.
The continuation and extension of existing programmes, such as the HotSW Growth Hub34 and the Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab35, will be important. Just as necessary will be local economy support networks, such as Local Spark Torbay and Totnes’ REconomy Centre, which runs an annual Local Economic Forum, with investment-raising “community of dragons” events, inspired by Dragon’s Den.
R5. Support immature industries and new models that have the potential to contribute to delivering net-zero.
7.5.6 Goal EF – Devon has the Skills to Meet Net-Zero
The CCC identifies the availability of skills as a limiting factor to the rate of decarbonisation.21 As we move towards net-zero, all businesses will need to change their operations and behaviours so that they become net-zero businesses, including traditional sectors such as farming and tourism. For some this will mean an evolution of existing activities and for others the change may be more pronounced. Furthermore, carbon-intensive sectors will shrink, whilst sectors that can help Devon meet net-zero will grow.
The CCC identified the need to enhance skills specifically in the following areas:
The Built Environment
- The design and build of low carbon homes
- The supply and use of timber in construction
- Hydrogen and carbon capture and storage
- Renewable energy development and construction
- Electricity system infrastructure
- Installation of measures to retrofit buildings to reduce their energy demand and increase their ability to generate their own electricity.
- Battery cell manufacture
- Transport innovation and manufacture
- Retrofitting ships to run on ammonia and new ship building skills.
Agriculture and Land Use
- Skills for land managers to transition to new low carbon management techniques
- Crop and livestock research and development
Making It Happen
Devon will need to support its workforce to learn new skills to equip them for the future. It will be important to ensure no one is left behind and that the transition to net-zero is socially inclusive.
Devon’s education providers, from primary schools through to universities, will need to continue to evolve their curriculums and training offers so that Devon can develop the workforce and community skills it needs to meet the net-zero challenge. Working with schools to prepare children for the future is essential as attitudes, values and many skills are developed at a young age.
Businesses will need support to develop their workforce to keep up with the transition and to take advantage of emerging sectors and legislative changes on the horizon – such as the switch to electric vehicles and the move away from gas boilers.
An immediate upskilling opportunity is to provide support to businesses to reduce the carbon-intensity of their operations and culture through hands-on assistance in their workplaces. The Low Carbon Devon project and the Make It Net Zero initiative already offer limited support and these types of programme need to be expanded. Where businesses have a legal incentive to improve their practices, for example in managing their waste appropriately, a modest ‘non-profit’ charge could be levied for this service by local authorities or community organisations.
Individuals in carbon-intensive sectors which shrink because of legislative and technological developments may need a support service to help them redeploy their skills or develop new skills.
R21. Provide schools with curriculum support on net-zero issues.
R22. Provide net-zero training and reskilling opportunities.
R23. Provide a net-zero-transition support service to businesses.
R24. Provide support for individuals experiencing career difficulties due to the transition to net-zero.
7.5.7 Goal EG – Devon has Access to the Finance Needed for Net-Zero
Following the launch of the UK’s Green Finance Strategy in 2019, the government-owned UK Infrastructure Bank was launched in 2021. This is providing investment to support businesses and local authorities to deliver low-carbon infrastructure projects individually exceeding £5m. It is also developing an expert advisory service to help find the right financing for projects.36
Homeowners could benefit from green mortgages that offer favourable interest rates for people who choose to purchase an energy efficient home or commit to upgrading its energy performance. These are new products, which 72% of the Devon Climate Assembly thought should be developed further.37 These are the subject of the government’s Green Home-Finance Accelerator, launching in Autumn 2022, that is designed to overcome the high initial-development costs for lenders entering this market to make more products available.38
However, businesses and organisations will need to access finance for all-scales of project in order to invest in the changes required for the transition to a net-zero Devon. Multiple channels of finance will be needed and we must be innovative in how we finance the net-zero transition.
Making It Happen
Finance for business
The Thematic Hearing on Cross Cutting Themes heard that 60% of businesses in Devon are sole traders and can struggle with access to finance. This is not helped by the UK’s lack of local and regional banking.39 The New Economics Foundation accuses the major banks of “failing to provide loans to small business” and puts this down to the replacement of local bank managers and their knowledge, by credit scoring software.39
We ought to support the creation of regional banks that will be able to support small businesses. A regional bank is already in development – South West Mutual. Several of Devon’s local authorities have already invested and its continuing development should be supported.
Finance for the public sector
It is extremely unlikely that enough funding for local authorities will come from national government. A decade of austerity measures has constrained access to public finance and made investing in public infrastructure challenging.41 However, there is growing interest in community municipal bonds – these are loans that local people and businesses make to local governments and pay back interest. Municipal bonds can lead to the cost of borrowing being cheaper than government’s Public Works Loan Board and create a powerful opportunity for local authorities to rebuild trust by engaging with citizens as investors.40 Swindon Borough Council41 and West Berkshire Council have used this model.42 We need to learn from their experience and consider implementing this model in Devon.
Investment-based finance may not be appropriate for all institutions, for example schools and hospitals which do not have the profit earning potential of transport and energy schemes to repay investors. However, donation-based crowdfunding and other less profit-motivated mechanisms may be possible.
Finance for communities
As well as institutions, we must ensure citizens and organisations are also aware of innovative finance approaches. Crowd-sourced funds are an opportunity for community-led initiatives. For example, community energy organisations in Devon have raised over £5.5m through securities-based crowdfunding to fund the delivery of renewable energy schemes43, whilst local authorities in Devon have helped community projects raise donation-based crowdfunding from local donors wanting to see specific low-carbon projects succeed. We should share good practice about the use of crowd-sourced funds in Devon to help more communities do the same.
R25. Support the development of regional banks
R26. Consider using municipal bonds to raise finance for municipal infrastructure
R27. Share community crowd-funding case studies and good practice.
7.6 Summary of the Actions
Figure 7.5 shows the reference number and text of each of the Economy and Resources actions in this Plan. The anticipated start and duration of each action is shown on the right hand side of the diagram.
The actions with their duration highlighted in red in Figure 7.5 have been identified as a priority through two processes. Firstly, the Net Zero Task Force assessed each action’s potential to contribute to significant emissions reductions and the likelihood they can be implemented in a timely fashion. Secondly, some actions were highlighted as being important by the respondents to the public consultation.
For more detail, including who can help to deliver these actions, see the full action table.
Delivering the actions in this section of the Plan will help to achieve the milestones in Figure 7.6. These milestones reflect the Climate Change Committee’s Further Ambition Scenario.
1 Mitchell A. et al. (2020) Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report – Devon, Plymouth, Torbay 2018. Centre for Energy and Environment, University of Exeter. Available at: https://devonclimateemergency.org.uk/studies-and-data/devons-carbon-footprint/
2 Rockström, J. et al. (2009) Planetary boundaries :Exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32. Available at: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/
3 WWF (2021) The UK’s Global Footprint. Available at: https://www.wwf.org.uk/what-we-do/uk-global-footprint
4 Local Government Association (2020), Over a million new green jobs could be created. Available at: https://www.local.gov.uk/lga-over-million-new-green-jobs-could-be-created-2050 [Members only]
5 Raworth, K. (2017) Doughnut Economics, Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, Penguin
6 Raworth, K. (2017) What on Earth is the Doughnut? Available at: https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/
7 Devon County Council (2014) Devon Waste Plan. Available at: https://www.devon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policies/minerals-and-waste-policy/devon-waste-plan
8 Recycle Devon (2020) Repair Café. Available at: https://www.recycledevon.org/reuse/repair-cafe
9 Yeo, S. (2017) The sharing economy helps fight climate change, but not as much as you think. The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/09/18/the-sharing-economy-helps-fight-climate-change-but-not-as-much-as-you-think/
10 Defra (2021) Local authority collected waste generation from April 2000 to March 2021 (England and regions) and local authority data April 2020 to March 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env18-local-authority-collected-waste-annual-results-tables
11 Devon County Council and Torbay Council (2020) Resource and Waste Management Strategy for Devon and Torbay, 2020-2030. Available at: https://www.devon.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/document/resource-and-waste-management-strategy-for-devon-and-torbay
12 Calculated from figures provided in Devon County Council and Torbay Council (2020) Resource and Waste Management Strategy for Devon and Torbay, 2020-2030, which states “For Devon to reach the 2035 65% target for municipal waste (including business waste) an extra 38,000 or so tonnes more recycling will be required”. Devon currently recycles 56%. So if a 9% increase requires 38,000 tonnes more recycling, that means 1% requires 4,222 tonnes. To reach 70% is a 14% increase. 14 x 4,222 = 59,108 tonnes.
13 Climate Change Committee (2020) The Sixth Carbon Budget. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Sixth-Carbon-Budget-The-UKs-path-to-Net-Zero.pdf
14 Lindzon, J.(2015) How Corporate Responsibility Affects Recruiting and Retention, Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3052763/how-corporate-responsibility-affects-recruiting-and-retention
15 CAG Devon Community Action Groups (2020) Impact Report 2019-2020. Available at: https://cagdevon.org.uk/impact
16 Ballinger, A. et al. (2020) The Carbon Impacts of Waste Management in Devon County: Analysis and Recommendations for Devon County Council. Eunomia.
17Environmental Services Association (2018) Why Wait? Weight isn’t working. Available at: http://www.esauk.org/application/files/3215/3589/6450/20180820_Why_Wait_Weight_isnt_working_Smarter_measures_for_the_circular_economy.pdf
18 HM Revenue & Customs (2020) Policy paper – Plastic packaging tax. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax/plastic-packaging-tax
19 Osborne Clarke (2022) Defra publishes proposal to reform the UK packaging waste regime. Available at: https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/defra-publishes-proposal-reform-uk-packaging-waste-regime
20 HM Government (2018) Our Waste, Our resources: A Strategy for England. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/resources-and-waste-strategy-for-england
21 Climate Change Committee (2019) Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/.
22 Data provided by South West Water
23 Climate Change Committee (2019) Net Zero Technical Report. Net-Zero Exhibits – Waste. Available at: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/08-Net-Zero-TR-Exhibits-Waste.xlsx
24 ECOWASTE4FOOD Interreg Europe (2020) Project Summary. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ecowaste4food/
25 Food and the Circular Economy – South West (2020) The Project. Available at: https://www.circularfood.net/the-project.html
26 Devon Communities Together (2022) Food Rescue. Available at: https://www.devoncommunities.org.uk/projects/devon-food-rescue
27 WRAP (2022) The Courtauld Commitment 2030. Available at: https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/food-drink/initiatives/courtauld-commitment
28 Water UK (2020) Net-Zero 2030 Routemap. Available at: https://www.water.org.uk/routemap2030/
29 South West Water (2021) Our Promise to the Planet – Carbon Busting Net-Zero Plan. Available at: https://www.southwestwater.co.uk/about-us/sustainability/net-zero-plan/
30 Local Spark Torbay (Unknown) The role of ‘anchor institutions’ – Unlocking potential through local employment and procurement. Available at: https://localsparktorbay.org/anchor/
31 Preston City Council (2019) How we built community wealth in Preston, Available at: https://www.preston.gov.uk/media/1792/How-we-built-community-wealth-in-Preston/pdf/CLES_Preston_Document_WEB_AW.pdf?m=636994067328930000
32 BEIS (2021) Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/net-zero-strategy
33 Heart of the South West (2019) Local Industrial Strategy Progress Statement 2. Available at: https://heartofswlep.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/190807-Heart-of-the-SW-LIS-Progress-Statement-2.pdf
34 HotSW Growth Hub (Unknown) Homepage. Available at: https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/
35 Impact Lab (Unknown) Homepage. Available at: https://www.impactlab.org.uk/
36UK Infrastructure Bank (2021) Homepage. Available at: https://www.ukib.org.uk/
37 Scott, K. and Ward, D. (2021) Devon Climate Assembly – “How should Devon meet the big challenges of climate change?”. Available at: https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/devon-climate-assembly/devon-climate-assembly-report/
38 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2022) Information about the Green Home Finance Accelerator. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/green-home-finance-accelerator/information-about-the-green-home-finance-accelerator
39 New Economics Foundation (2011) A Local Banking System, The urgent need to reinvigorate UK high street banking. Available at: https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/46fc770bd9488eeb31_q6m6ibhi5.pdf
40 Abundance (2020) Crowdfunding for Local Authorities. Available at: https://issuers.abundanceinvestment.com/local-authorities
41 Davis, M. and Cartwright, L. (2019) Financing for Society: Assessing the Suitability of Crowdfunding for the Public Sector, The University of Leeds. Available at: https://baumaninstitute.leeds.ac.uk/research/financing-for-society/
42 Abundance Investment (2020) Helping West Berkshire Build Back Better. Available at: https://www.abundanceinvestment.com/west-berkshire
43 Regen (2018) Devon Community Energy Impact Report. Available at: https://www.regen.co.uk/publications/devon-community-energy-impact-report-2018/