The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has today (20 August) launched the second of two new reports looking at what it will take to meet the (weight based) recycling targets proposed by the EU Circular Economy Package.
The report says the current weight based recycling targets for waste have been useful in driving performance to date, but asks if they’re fit for purpose?
The report, ‘Smarter Measures for the Circular Economy’ aims to shine a light on how we measure the recycling rate and states that weight is not the best way of measuring what is actually remanufactured into new products.
The report suggests we should measure more than just the recycling rate, and contains proposals for how we could measure things differently to help the move to a more circular economy.
It says increasing domestic reprocessing capacity should be a priority, as well as driving manufacturing within the UK by demanding recycled content.
“It makes better sense to recover and recycle materials in the UK rather than send them around the world,” ESA says.
“There is clearly scope in a post-Brexit world for us to do something much smarter which actually focuses properly on environmental outcomes and enables us to capture more value from our waste resources.”
The report also makes other suggestions, such as a target for each material stream linked to the best environmental option for that particular material.
Some of the things that will need to change in the way things are produced, consumed and how they are treated when they are discarded to help drive this transition, the reports states.
It also says that products containing “hard to recycle” materials should attract a cost of recovery charge. This charge could also drive investment into product redesign and methods to recover and reuse key components, the ESA says.
ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler said: “Current EU waste policy measures success or failure on the basis of how heavy something is when it is recycled. There is clearly scope in a post-Brexit world for us to do something much smarter which actually focuses properly on environmental outcomes and enables us to capture more value from our waste resources.
“This report examines how we could bring this about in practice. It offers a clear and pragmatic route-map for introducing new metrics alongside our current weight based system, which could offer us the future flexibility to phase out the most problematic materials and de-carbonise our waste and recycling systems most effectively.”
A copy of the report can be found here