Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) launches a hugely exciting EU green initiative project to establish a working circular economy for Norwich, by helping businesses create new resources by re-purposing their waste.

Zero Waste Future

Being sustainable in how we live is now something we individually make choices about on a daily basis, but ensuring our businesses, towns and cities are able to run sustainably involved much bigger choices. How we manage waste both now and for the future is a big and important task. According to the Ellen McArthur Foundation (who work to produce a positive future circular economy), cities consume over 75% of natural resources, produce over 50% of global waste and emit between a whopping 60-80% of greenhouse gasses.

Upcycling may be a term you’ve heard of before, but what’s the real meaning behind it? It’s the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless or unwanted products into new materials or products of great use and value.

A circular economy takes resources that would otherwise be wasted and gives them a new purpose and lease of life in another part of society. This means the materials are constantly in use and waste is kept out of landfill; reducing the impact society has on the environment.

Run by local businesses for local businesses, Norwich BID invests in a defined area of the city to enhance and promote the local environment for businesses, employees and customers. Businesses can plan how to improve their trading environment and identify projects that develop the city’s centre and its trade. How we manage our waste in Norwich is currently high up on the agenda for Norwich BID. As the city changes and sustainability becomes even more of an urgent issue, they want to make Norwich the lead in establishing a circular economy.

Upcycle Your Waste Programme

On the 24th June, Norwich BID launched a new project which will establish a working circular economy for the city. This is part of a much larger project to get SMEs in cities across the EU going green with their waste. Norwich is one of just two locations in the UK working on the ground-breaking European ‘Interreg 2 Seas’ project. It’s an EU funded initiative which aims to ‘upcycle’ 20% of all the waste produced by businesses in the total 6 participating locations across Europe.

‘Upcycle Your Waste’ aims to create a collaborative community to create this circular economy for Norwich by supporting Norwich’s SMEs in reducing running costs and transforming their waste into new resources for the community. The project also aims to improve the efficiency of waste-handling, especially when it comes to production and manufacturing. Free for SMEs to take part in, they will benefit from easy-to-access means for upcycling, as well as professional advice on their waste throughout the project. The programme should be a great way for SMEs to save money by identifying new sources of income from their existing waste and of course create a more sustainable future for the city.

Here’s what Stefan Gurney, Executive Director of Norwich BID had to say: “Norwich BID is excited to be launching this project in Norwich, and to be one of only 2 locations in the UK involved in the Interreg 2 Seas programme. We’re pleased to be able to offer SMEs in the city ways to save money and time when it comes to handling their waste, but – more than that – we’re exceptionally proud to move the city further towards a more sustainable future. This project is the first of its kind here in Norwich, and has ambitious targets for the future. Over the next 3 years, we want to help our businesses create new systems for waste management that will keep resources working within the community for years to come.”

So How Does It Work?

The project will run for 3 years and is entirely free for businesses to participate in. By the end of the project in 2022/23, Norwich BID wants to have put in place the means for businesses to put their waste to better use. They stick to the valuable aim of creating something positive for the environment and the economy, and ensuring Norwich’s contribution to landfill is significantly reduced. Here’s an overview:

The first stage of the project (which is currently underway) entails Norwich BID aiming to engage with around 100 businesses in the Norwich area, conducting short 20 minute conversations to better understand the challenges they faces when re-purposing waste, along with what would make it easier for them to participate in the project.

Stage 2 is set to take place this autumn until early 2021, where the goal is to analyse and achieve a better understanding of the various types of waste that around 300 businesses are producing.

Throughout 2021 the third stage involves Norwich BID building a business case for the city’s upcycling and to provide support and capacity for every business involved to achieve re-purposing of their waste.

Norwich BID projects officer Victoria Nieto Felipe said: “Over the past 4 months we’ve seen some powerful examples of how our community can pull together in the face of big challenges. As Norwich – along with lots of towns and cities – plans for the future, we want to do everything we can to make sure the way we use our city is sustainable. I’m excited to be working on such a meaningful initiative and encouraged that other cities across the world have seen really positive results from projects like this one.”

Get Involved!

Norwich BID is still in the process of interviewing 100 businesses across the Greater Norwich Area. Any business who would like to be involved in the Upcycle Your Waste project can do so by sending an email to

Here at Hethel Innovation, we’re helping to put power behind innovative platforms tackling environmental challenges, such as Upcycle Your Waste and the food waste platform, which also looks at creating a circular economy for the food and drink sector. If you would like to get involved and collaborate with local businesses to be a part of the food waste solution, then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at