Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Multi-billion pound recycling plan launched


Every year, the UK is throwing away hundreds of millions of pounds in precious metals found in everyday items, to address the wastage the Government has written an action plan that will enable businesses to profit from recycling.

The Resource Security Action Plan was launched because of rising demand for consumer goods that suffer from a heavy reliance on speciality metals that are increasingly difficult to source from overseas. Environment secretary, Caroline Spelman said, “Businesses are already feeling the heat from uncertainty in the supply of the speciality metals used in mobile phones, medical equipment and aeroplanes”.

Spelman explained that the Government is working with businesses to help prepare them for risks as well as noting “a multi-billion pound opportunity in the massive amount of valuable metals lost because of how we deal now with products people no longer want.

I want to see British businesses taking advantage of this golden opportunity to boost growth and jobs through how we design products, while re-using, recycling or substituting valuable metals.”

Business secretary Vince Cable said making the most of this opportunity would “make the most of emerging growth opportunities, create high skilled jobs and compete on the world stage” all by making the most of valuable materials that get sent to landfill sites.

The plan features four key actions:

  • Financial support of £200,000 will be made available for local businesses to create new ways to re-use or recycle precious materials. Working with the Technology Strategy Board, Defra will build better partnerships between businesses, local authorities and local communities. Connecting manufacturers, waste companies and local authorities may result in improved designs that allow more efficient recovering of valuable materials.
  • An industry-led consortium will spearhead business efforts to assess risks and growth opportunities for UK businesses in the global market.
  • Unlocking the hidden value in gadgets “by developing a map of where, and how, the precious metals come in and out of the UK in electrical and electronic equipment”. Businesses will be able to innovate and create jobs by better capturing those materials. Currently, gold worth £350 million is used annually in the production of consumer goods in the UK, but 75% is lost through traditional recycling processes.
  • A new website will offer information on current and future availability of precious resources to help identify risks, opportunities or predict potential supply disruption.

The news comes after the Government’s waste adviser, WRAP, revealed in a report last year that millions of pounds could be generated from electrical waste discarded each year in the UK.

Reducing, reusing and recycling needs to be at the top of the agenda.  However, when we do need to buy something new, it’s important to consider sustainability at the point of purchase. We’ve put together a short guide to set you on the right track. We also recommend Ethical Superstore.

Related articles:

Money for old phones

Britons are throwing away chances to recycle

Electrical waste could generate millions

Retailers to help reduce electronic waste

Picture source: Dru Bloomfield

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