6m Tonnes Of UK Waste To Be Homeless By 2030, Reports ESA

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has launched its latest briefing, “The treatment capacity gap that urgently needs to be addressed” which states that recycling rates are unlikely to rise much above current levels, leaving the UK 6m tonnes short of treatment capacity by 2030.

Supporting this briefing, ESA also released an independent analysis of the UK market for the treatment of non-recyclable wastes, produced by Tolvik Consulting.

In addition to the capacity gap reporting, it also finds:

  • boosting recycling rates above the industry’s expected range of 50-55% is likely to cost at least £1.5 billion and will require significant government intervention to support markets for recycled materials;
  • closing the forecast 6m tonne capacity gap would lead to £4.5 billion capital investment, 1,500 permanent jobs in the waste sector and almost 7,500 jobs in the construction phase
  • the additional energy from waste facilities would produce almost 0.5GW of electricity, capable of powering around 720,000 homes.

Commenting on the report, ESA Executive Director Jacob Hayler said: “The waste and recycling industry is alarmed by the emergence of a critical lack of infrastructure to treat the nation’s waste. ESA’s Members have invested around £5 billion in UK recycling and recovery facilities in the past five years and completed detailed modelling exercises to understand what further investment is required for the future.

“Their conclusions are stark: by 2030 the UK needs faces a shortfall of six million tonnes of waste treatment capacity. Without action, this means that five million UK homes will see their waste buried in landfill when it could be used to generate energy, helping to safeguard the UK’s energy supplies.

“We urgently need the government to recognise the waste crisis the UK is facing and give the industry the long term clarity it needs to invest in new energy from waste facilities.”

Tolvik’s analysis supports the waste and recycling industry’s view that the UK is heading for serious under-capacity for the treatment of waste which cannot be recycled. As landfills close at an uneven rate around the country some regions will be left with no landfills and no replacement infrastructure before the end of this Parliament.

Tolvik Director Adrian Judge said: “Current policy uncertainty, particularly in England, is discouraging investment into the sector, which desperately needs new infrastructure both for recycling and for energy from waste facilities.

“This is creating the risk of a mismatch between waste tonnages and available treatment capacity, which could lead to significant quantities of waste without a home by 2030.”

Download the UK market analysis here

Download the briefing note in full here

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