Collect and Recycle

UK urged to ‘act now’ to increase reuse and recycling rates

The environmental charity Green Alliance has published a report by the Circular Economy Task Force, in which concern is expressed about UK recycling falling behind other countries in the absence of immediate action to secure material resources for reuse or recycling, a development that should interest many business clients of Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com).

The first report by the task force, entitled ‘Resource resilient UK’, takes the government to task for lacking an industrial strategy that takes resource risks sufficiently ‘seriously’ to ensure that a viable manufacturing economy is built, which would drive future job creation and business opportunities.

The report flagged up how the increasing costs of extraction, restricted land availability and environmental issues like the scarcity of water were leading to shortages of such materials as copper, aluminium and oil, suggesting that reuse and recycling could be helpful in addressing these problems.

According to the report, although UK businesses are interested in mitigating a scarcity of resources by boosting the recycling of business waste, there needed to be increased collaborative working between businesses as well as more help from government.

This led the Task Force report to propose a series of measures aimed at encouraging companies to secure resources for a greater number of reuse and recycling approaches. Suggested strategies included the government leading a study into the exposure of the UK to material insecurity.

Also recommended in the report was the strengthening of individual producer responsibility by government, the European Commission clarifying competition law so that exemptions are reinforced for co-ordination between businesses that benefits the environment, and businesses committing to use long-term contracts and joint ventures to accelerate material and product recovery.

It was also suggested that government directly intervene in product design to ensure the greater ease of reuse, recycling and remanufacture of products. In addition, support was set out by the Task Force for such measures as minimum reuse and recycling targets, reuse standards such as PAS 141 and the development of collection standards and guidance to the end of maximum reusability – suggestions with which many waste disposal companies will doubtless agree.

Report author Dustin Benton commented: “Our analysis shows that companies in the UK want and need to avoid resource security risks. There’s a lot that businesses can do on their own, but the government needs to help. The government’s industrial strategy should quantify resource security risks for different business sectors. It also needs to actively broker co-operation across supply chains to get materials back, and push businesses to redesign their products to make them easier to recover.”

The Circular Economy Task Force was set up through the UK’s Resource Security Action Plan with sponsorship from Defra and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It is composed of various businesses and organisations, one of which is the Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP). The report certainly makes interesting reading for any firm taking advantage of waste services like those of Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com).

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