Green Growth Agenda is Good For Wales

Beth Winkley

On 21 May the National Assembly for Wales held a debate called Promoting Green Growth through Resource Efficiency.

It’s hard to imagine such a discussion taking place even a few years ago. The received wisdom was that economic growth and environmental protection were mutually exclusive. But as the Natural Resources Minister remarked in his opening speech, ‘green growth not only protects our environment, but has the potential to drive Welsh wealth creation.’

This emphasis on green growth is to be welcomed, by both the business and environmental sectors. And it is an approach which WRAP Cymru wholeheartedly supports.

At the WRAP Cymru Conference in November last year we revealed that Wales could achieve savings of between £0.9 and £1.7 billion every year by adopting a circular economy which keeps natural resources in use for as long as possible and extracts the maximum value out of them. We have recently commissioned a piece of work which will identify what the circular economy will mean for Wales, and I look forward to sharing the findings later in the year.

The truth is, however, that Wales is already feeling the benefits of circular economy thinking – and has done so for several years.

Our ARID programme – which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Welsh Government – is designed to keep waste out of landfill so it can be used as a resource. We have already allocated funding which will lead to the creation of 69 new jobs in Wales’ Convergence Region - the areas of Wales most in need of growth. Applications for the Large Scale Infrastructure Fund close 30 July 2013; you can also find out more about the application process on this presentation.

In his speech the Minister also talked about the problem of rising resource costs, which is another area of focus for WRAP Cymru. We offer manufacturing SMEs consultancy support worth up to £10,000 to help them identify whether they could save money by using recycled rather than virgin content. Businesses based in Wales’ Convergence Region can also apply for grants of up to £50,000 to cover equipment costs.

We’re also working with Wales’ hospitality, tourism and food sectors to help deliver the £5 million annual savings which Welsh pubs, hotels, restaurants and food service businesses could make simply by reducing their waste and recycling more. Apply for a grant or consultancy support.

I really felt encouraged reading the transcript of the Minister’s words, seeing his clear commitment to  green growth. With his drive I believe Wales is well-placed to build its green businesses, create new sustainable jobs and grow wealth. I look forward to working with him and his officials to help build an innovative, resilient and sustainable Wales.