An extra 140m tonnes of waste could be recycled if all products are consciously designed to maximise end-life recovery of components and materials commodities, according to a new report from the Environmental Services Association (ESA).
The ESA’s Going for Growth report examines in detail the contribution the waste and resource industry can make to a circular economy and provides ten recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders, which will help bring it closer to reality.
The ESA report states that by helping ensure that products and their packaging can be easily reused, dismantled and recycled, the waste and recovery sector could help generate a further £1.4bn for the UK economy in extra recyclate revenues.
David Palmer Jones – “By helping manufacturers ‘design for recovery’, the waste and resources sector can make a significant contribution to the creation of a zero-waste circular economy”
The creation of a circular economy in the UK could also generate 50,000 jobs and boost GDP by £3bn, according to the report. As well as improving the balance of payments by £20bn and improving the UK’s economic outlook, this would result in more sustainable economic growth and reduce pressure on resources and supply chains.
“80 Percent of the environmental impact of a product is determined at design stage”, says ESA’s Chairman, David Palmer Jones. “By helping manufacturers ‘design for recovery’, the waste and resources sector can make a significant contribution to the creation of a zero-waste circular economy.”
“If we work together to change the way products are designed, we can avoid the current trend of a third of potentially recyclable material being lost to the economy. This is vital for resource efficiency and security, and to reduce environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions,” Palmer Jones said.
Production And Consumption
According to the ESA’s report, the global economy has followed a linear pattern of production and consumption for the past 150 years but with growing global population rates and increased levels of consumption this model is becoming unsustainable. In order to maintain rising living standards and remove the pressure on the earth’s increasingly strained resources, a new model is required.
David Palmer-Jones – “The waste management industry sits at the heart of the development of a circular economy”
“The waste management industry sits at the heart of the development of a circular economy”, says Palmer-Jones, “Our members are on the frontline as collectors and processors of the raw materials which are then injected back into the economy. The future of our industry is to turn all waste into a productive resource by using all forms of available technology”.
Going for Growth makes ten recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders in the circular economy:
- 1. Waste management companies to contribute experts to the “design for recyclability” spaces proposed by RSA.
- 2. EU to use powers within the Eco Design Directive to set recyclability requirements for selected products
- 3. A BIS Ministerial post should be created to lead on Resource Efficiency across Government, linking the current emphasis on industrial policy with the material resources agenda
- 4. EU should consider adding products with high recycled content to list of VAT reduced goods
- 5. Specifications for recycled products/content in Government Buying Standards to be increased
- 6. Separate food waste collections to become widespread for households and businesses
- 7. Business parks, Business Improvement Districts and other clusters of SMEs to facilitate collective long term contracts for recyclate collections
- 8. Development of standard clauses in local authority collection contracts to enable better allocation of recyclate price risk between partners.
- 9. Green Investment Bank to consider developing “insurance products” that would underwrite elements of waste volume/recyclate price risk.
- 10. MRF sampling proposals to be strengthened in line with ESA proposals to Defra
Read the full report HERE