Turn waste into wealth, says Prince Charles

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The Prince of Wales has called for more emphasis on a circular economy in a speech to the Business in the Community ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ Summit in London.

“The small steps we have taken towards a circular economy will need to become giant strides if we are to achieve the required changes before time runs out,” he said.

The Summit brought together over 200 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society to discuss ways to double the nation’s resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste by 2030. The Prince delivered the keynote speech exploring initiatives to improve waste management and recycling and examining ways to take better care of the planet.

“We are using resources faster than Nature can replenish them and damaging our own life-support system,” he said.

During his talk the Prince acknowledged the change in public attitudes since the broadcast of the BBC Blue Planet series which revealed the damage to the environment and wildlife caused by discarded plastic.

“Every discarded plastic drinking straw, wet wipe, cup, bottle or bag tells a clear and unequivocal story of waste and missed opportunity, both to generate value and to address the over-arching challenge of climate change, recently listed of course by the World Economic Forum as amongst the biggest threats facing the world,” he argued.

The speech ranged across areas including energy and materials efficiency, recycling, better processes and litter picking as well as the importance of the business community working together to achieve change.

In a section devoted to initiatives in other countries the Prince referred to the recent revelation he had taken his own sons litter picking.

“From a very young age, Swedish children are taught to recycle, both at home and at school. There is even a national day on which children across the country gather to pick up litter and clean up their surroundings. Incidentally, I’d forgotten that I’d taken my own children litter picking all those years ago, nor did I realise they paid any attention at all!”

In a personal ending the Prince said: “We are the first generation to understand, in full and terrifying detail, that we are testing our world to destruction. And we are the last to be able to do something about it. If we do not act, our children and grandchildren will not be able to sort out the mess; that is the problem. So, with a new grandchild on the way I do not want to miss that opportunity”.

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