Report: Repair, reuse, recycling and remanufacture could create over 450,000 UK jobs by 2035

New research suggests that the Treasury can support thousands of new UK jobs in the circular economy – but that only an ‘ambitious plan’ would see them created more evenly across the country.

A new report from Green Alliance suggests that transforming the UK’s approach to repair, reuse, recycling and remanufacture could create more than 450,000 jobs across the country by 2035 – and help the government define and deliver its ‘levelling up’ agenda.  

The new research finds that transforming the UK’s circular economy could see more than 300,000 new jobs in remanufacturing and 30,000 in repair work within the next 15 years.

A third of the projected total jobs would be in lower skilled occupations that currently see higher unemployment rates, while positions in skilled trades and administrative and procurement roles would also benefit. This could help to replace jobs lost to automation and offshoring, according to the Green Alliance.

This is a great opportunity for the Chancellor to show his commitment to expanding innovation, and for the government to show the meaning of levelling up

With an ambitious approach, through investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation, the West Midlands and the North West would see significant growth in remanufacturing jobs.

Recycling jobs could help challenge unemployment in Wales, alongside rental and leasing jobs in the South West and remanufacturing jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber.

There could be opportunities for product designers in new remanufacturing departments in the North East, and for skilled repairers of machinery and electronics in the East Midlands.

Zoe Avison from Green Alliance said:“A big programme to avoid unnecessary waste and reclaim the value of materials would not only help consumers but create jobs in communities across the country.

“This is a great opportunity for the Chancellor to show his commitment to expanding innovation, and for the government to show the meaning of levelling up.”

Government ambition

Green Alliance has found, however, that creating lots of jobs, and more evenly, across the UK is dependent on government ambition.

If the UK’s circular economy continues to develop at the existing rate, Green Alliance projects that only 40,000 new jobs will be created across the country to 2035.

Moreover, the South East and London would stand to gain a markedly higher share of these jobs than under a scenario where the approach to the circular economy was transformed.

Boosting the circular economy would therefore support the government’s ‘levelling up’ vision, which Green Alliance says has ‘come under criticism’ in recent months.

Green Alliance is urging the Treasury to bring in a series of new policies to transform the circular economy and create jobs across the UK. These include an ambitious target to halve UK resource use by 2050; to increase consumer demand by zero rating VAT on repairs and refurbishment; and to support workers to move into the circular economy through retraining programmes and career coaching. 

To demonstrate the value of the circular economy, a reused iPhone retains around 48 percent of its original value, but just 0.24 per cent as recycled material. 

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