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SECTOR GROUP: CONSUMPTION, WASTE And the circular economy


Current carbon emissions from food drink and other products bought by residents and visitors to Cumbria are estimated to be more than 2 MtCO2 equivalent, these emissions need to be reduced by more than 70% by 2037.

* Figure excludes cars. [Figures sourced from updated carbon baseline]

Under-pinned by data from Cumbria’s Carbon Baseline Report, the Consumption, Waste and Circular Economy sector group has been formed  to create and steer Emissions Reduction Action Plans, in order to achieve Cumbria’s ambition of becoming carbon net-zero by 2037. 


Recycling bins relocated to Bitts Park car park

As with wider society, here in Cumbria we buy, consume and discard goods in a largely linear way.

So for instance whether this is food, clothes, electricals or furniture, resources are extracted, produced, supplied, consumed, and then often simply disposed of as waste. However all this activity hugely increases our carbon footprint.

Major challenges creating significant waste include disposable products designed and used for only a very short amount of time, food which is never eaten, products which can’t be repaired, materials which can’t be recycled, and excess packaging.

To rapidly cut emissions, we’ll need to move away from our current linear economic model, and adopt a far more circular approach which keeps materials in use for as long as possible.

A circular economy emphasises reusing, repairing, and recycling materials to create a closed-loop system, where our finite resources are used far more efficiently and effectively, and any waste generation is minimised.

Meeting this huge challenge will require strong top-down leadership from government and businesses, pursuing ambitious policies to significantly reduce waste. This will need to combine with shift changes across society in our consumer behaviour towards consumption and waste.

There are many positive benefits of transitioning to a circular economy. As well as cutting waste and emissions, it can also help to save us money, conserve natural resources, protect the environment, increase food security, and improve public health.

Moving to an economic model based on repair and reuse can also stimulate skills training and job growth, creating new economic opportunities for individuals and businesses. There is great potential to innovate in how we design, use, repair and recycle products, minimising any waste generated and the environmental consequences.

Sector group progress update

March 2024

New: Read the sector group's plans

After a great deal of work over the past few months, the sector group’s plans are now published, representing a significant milestone in our journey towards a net zero Cumbria.  The plans are presented in two documents;  an Emissions Reduction Pathway (ERP) and Emissions Reduction Action Plan (ERAP).

  • The Emissions Reduction Pathway sets out the strategic direction to reduce carbon emissions. It includes a carbon baseline, a vision and objectives for a net zero Cumbria, priority areas for reducing emissions and how we should tackle decarbonisation.

  • The Emissions Reduction Action Plan sets out detailed proposed actions for emissions reduction in each sector.  Actions are built around priority areas for decarbonisation, identifying potential targets and key stakeholders for delivery.

  • Your feedback is an important part of the process, so click the button and find out more about Cumbria’s steps to a more sustainable future.
    Delegates at the Zero Carbon Cumbria Summit explore challenges

    Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership Summit – A Report

    The first of what we intend to be an annual event, the Zero Carbon Cumbria Summit, on the 20 March 2024 attracted a good cross section of representatives from the private, public and third sectors.   For some delegates, this was their first experience of the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership. We

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    Sector group progress update

    What emissions are in scope?

    Household consumption

    Household consumption

    This area takes into account all Cumbrian residents’ household emissions from goods and services bought and used. Including food, packaging and recreational activities.

    Visitor consumption

    Visitor consumption

    This area looks at the consumption of those visiting Cumbria. This scope includes goods and services bought and used, food and recreational activities.

    Reducing and managing waste in Cumbria

    Waste management and reduction

    This area of scope examines the options for preventing and reducing waste. Including; reusing, repairing, recycling and the treatment of waste.

    The circular economy in Cumbria


    Household consumption

    Including the circular econonomy and supply chain.

    Working towards net zero: consumption, waste and circular economy news from around Cumbria

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    It’s recycle week! And the perfect time to flag up some of the services here in Cumbria that will support your recycling needs –  reducing the rubbish in landfill, reusing vital resources and lowering our carbon footprint. The theme this year is all about those items that you may not

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    International Food Waste and Loss Day

    Half the UK’s food is imported from overseas  – and worsening climate events, such as extreme heat, wildfire, and flooding, threaten our food security.   International Food Waste and Loss day highlights the importance of cutting food waste and loss at an international scale. Nearly 30% of the world’s agricultural

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    Youth Climate Summit 2023

    This year’s Youth Climate Summit was held in Kendal. At the summit the young people were asked about barriers and solutions for each sector group area. Watch their thoughts on ‘consumption, waste and the circular economy’ below. ‘

    How could we reach net zero?

    To tackle Cumbria’s ambitious target of reaching net-zero by 2037, the Consumption, Waste and the Circular Economy sector group plays an integral role.

    To help achieve this, some suggested Priority Emission Reduction Actions (PERAs) have been identified, based on extensive research across a broad evidence base ranging from IPCC and UK Government reports to emissions data from Cumbria’s carbon baseline report.

    These PERAs offer a key starting point from which the Consumption, Waste and the Circular Economy sector group can develop detailed Emissions Reduction Action Plans leading to rapid countywide action.

     The suggested PERA’s  for the Consumption, Waste and the Circular Economy sector group are focussed on the following areas:

    repairing items

    Get involved

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    Contact the partnership manager to find out how you could take part