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Businesses 'lose £1.7bn a year' through inconsistent recycling

Businesses 'lose £1.7bn a year' through inconsistent recycling

Businesses 'lose £1.7bn a year' through inconsistent recycling

The disjointed ways in which recycling is organised throughout the UK means a great deal of potential worth is being lost each year.

This is according to the findings of a new study carried out by the Green Alliance's Circular Economy Task Force, which stated that an estimated £1.7 billion per annum is being eroded in material and reuse value.

Although the business benefits of recycling and engaging with green practices more generally have been well documented, this research would appear to indicate it is also highly important to keep close tabs on the activities of your enterprise to ensure it is going about the practices in as effective a manner as possible.

It was noted this also follows a general trend of a wider decline in recycling, with the national average rate rising by just 0.2 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

The report indicated that businesses do in fact want to use recycled materials - and reprocessors also want to see the relevant infrastructure introduced that would allow them to provide them to such clients in a much more straightforward manner.

However, this is not made simple by the current system in the UK, which sees just 30 per cent of plastic packaging collected for recycling. Furthermore, two-thirds of this total is then shipped overseas for reprocessing in other countries, which may not be the most efficient use of the resources.

The equivalent figures for waste electronics are even more wanting, with only two per cent successfully reused. This is despite the fact that up to 23 per cent of these materials are deemed suitable for recycling in some fashion.

It was suggested that the implementation of a new system, modelled on the one in place in Denmark, could bring forward as much as £2 billion in private investment.

For this to come about, the report proposes national recycling is reorganised at a regional level, rather than necessarily being the responsibility of local authorities, as is the case at present.

Author of the paper Dustin Benton explained that the issue is a structural one, which is why it will need to be addressed. "The government could easily turn this around by reforming the system to help businesses get the UK moving toward a circular economy," he commented.

Increasing reuse and quality recycling in waste electronics is thought to make it possible to capture up to £500 million, as well as creating the infrastructure to support up to 40 new plastics recyclers up and down the country.

"Local authorities spend more on waste management than housing or planning," Mr Benton commented.

"Valuable raw materials are lost while businesses are frustrated by a lack of usable recycled materials," he continued, adding: "The system both stymies demand for recycled materials and prevents businesses investing."

Dr Geoff Mackey, sustainable development and communications director at chemical company BASF Europe North, said: "Once capturing the value in materials starts to drive our recovery systems, you change the business model as market demand can then build to the critical mass that drives entrepreneurialism and innovation."

 

Posted by Jamie Kendell

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock/Digital Vision