A new study by Veolia, the waste management experts, has found that three sectors of business alone are collectively producing over 13 million tonnes of rubbish which could be used to generate value worth £4 billion.
The findings show that the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, food and beverage sectors and manufacturing as a whole are producing a huge amount of waste every year - to the tune of 13 million tonnes. If this waste was properly processed, a 'hidden' value of £4 billion could be extracted from it.
One of the ways in which this rubbish could release value is through energy from waste processing, where waste is diverted away from landfill and burned in an incinerator to produce heat for district heat systems and local businesses.
The report has also flagged up an array of challenges that face these sectors, which include regulatory pressures to lessen carbon emissions, fast population growth and the use of advanced technology.
A spokesperson from Veolia said that firms needed to secure future resources but should also see what was happening currently in the field of research and development in order to extract value from waste.
She explained that business operations and models could be re-designed and shaped by 2050 to ensure that the 'loop' of manufacturing processes was closed and that waste products went on to produce further value - primarily by generating power from renewable sources and allowing businesses to become increasingly self-sufficient.
She explained that this £4 billion of hidden value could no longer be ignored and that finding ways to extract it would allow firms to better manage their resources and produce new revenue streams at the same time, all as part of the new circular economy.