A new report highlights the lack of organisation within UK waste management, saying a more circular economy could also bring £2 billion in private investment to Britain.
The study by the Green Alliance backed Circular Economy Task Force shows recycling rates only rose 0.2% between 2012 and 2013.
Although local authorities spend more on waste management than housing there are still huge inefficiencies, with recyclable waste treated differently across the UK’s 376 waste collection authorities.
Dustin Benton, the author of the report, said, “Local authorities spend more on waste management than housing or planning. Valuable raw materials are lost while businesses are frustrated by a lack of usable recycled materials. The system both stymies demand for recycled materials and prevents businesses investing.
“The problem is structural. The government could easily turn this around by reforming the system to help businesses get the UK moving toward a circular economy.”
At the start of this month the EU announced plans to increase recycling targets and recycle 70% waste by 2030 to promote a more circular economy.
With the growing population in the UK due to bring restraints to resources, the amount of waste will continue to rise and managing it properly will be vital.
The report argues current government policy needs updating and a simpler waste management system would encourage more companies to invest in processing plants.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs says they want to move towards a ‘zero waste economy’ where resources are used as much as possible with very little thrown away.
However, the report found only 2% of waste electronics is reused even though 23% could be and two-thirds of recyclable plastic packaging is exported for reprocessing overseas.
Customers are becoming increasingly interested in their environmental impact and businesses are keen to use recycled materials but the current system means it’s not that easy.
“Greater consistency of collection and recycling systems would help ensure the reliability of material supply thereby facilitating the design and specification of more products incorporating recycled materials”, said Andrew Jenkins, sustainable development manager for products at Boots UK.
The Circular Economy Task Force is a business group created by the think tank and charity, Green Alliance. The group aims to encourage better resource efficiency in the UK.
Photo: Mikey via Flickr