At the outset of the REDUCES project Oldham Council together with Manchester Metropolitan University undertook a study on awareness and understanding of what ‘circular economy’ and business models mean and how a circular economy looked like in practice. It was clear that there was a general lack of understanding in both partner organisations and our stakeholders and that presented barriers to development of the CE in Greater Manchester.

This gap was identified as a potential barrier to the pragmatic development of circular economy in multi-ethnic Metropolitan Borough local authority areas, such as Oldham as well as across the GM SME sector and in Higher Education.

The learning from UTRECHT Circulaire and The Green Procurement Guide in Valencia demonstrated that we needed a comprehensive training package as part of a wider Climate awareness training package.

Oldham Council carbon literacy e-learning package

Oldham Council has developed a mandatory e-learning package for all staff, focusing on Carbon Literacy. The comprehensive package looks at the carbon impact of every aspect of our lifestyles, to enable staff to make informed decisions in their work and private lives when it comes to lifestyles choices.

The e-learning package contains a module on Circular Economy, which is a key concept in the wider subject of Carbon Literacy. The Circular Economy module has slides covering resource consumption, the difference between a linear and circular economy and five examples of circular economy in action.

As of 1st December 2022, the e-learning package has been taken by 1108 members of Oldham Council staff, many of whom have provided feedback which will help the Council to continually improve the package.

Rolling out to other Greater Manchester councils

Oldham provided its e-learning package to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who have adapted it and used the Circular Economy slides to make a new, generic e-learning package for use by a wide range of Greater Manchester based organisations and any others outside of GM who are interested.

So far, the GMCA e-learning package has been shared with a wide range of GM organisations including University of Manchester, GM National Health Service, NHS Wales, Transport for Greater Manchester, Wigan Council, Tameside Council and Bolton Council.

Oldham Council has also directly shared its e-learning package with Rochdale Council.

As of October 2022, a total of 1914 employees had completed the GMCA e-learning package.

Circular Economy in Oldham Council Procurement

Oldham Council uses the Social Value Portal (SVP) to secure and track delivery of social value across all of its contracts.

The SVP approach uses a set of TOMs (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) against which bidders for Council contracts can make commitments as part of their tender returns.

Oldham’s TOMs are split into a number of different categories:

  • Jobs: Oldham’s Inclusive Economy
  • Growth: Co-operative Services
  • Social: Thriving Communities
  • Environment: Oldham’s Green New Deal

Under the Oldham Green New Deal TOMs, a number of TOMs have been included around Circular Economy:

Resource efficiency and Circular Economy solutions are promoted:

  • A water efficiency policy is applied on contract, in order to reduce potable water waste and use and to improve general potable water use efficiency
  • Single-use plastic packaging eliminated through reusable packaging solutions or schemes (e.g. Loop or equivalent) on the contract
  • Value of service provided by local partnerships that implement circular economy solutions

Dave Catherall
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council