The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, has 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, ‘Smarter Measures for the Circular Economy’ highlights how we measure the recycling rate and why weight is not the best way of measuring what is actually remanufactured into new products. It details why we should measure more than just the recycling rate, and contains proposals for how to measure things differently to help the move to a more circular economy.
The report stresses that increasing domestic reprocessing capacity should be a priority, with UK manufacturing industry demanding recycled content.
Instead of an absolute target for recycling, individual material streams should each have their own target, linked to the best environmental option for that particular material, states the report, while changes need to be made in the way products are produced, consumed, and how they are treated when they are discarded. It recommends products containing “hard to recycle” materials should attract a cost of recovery charge which could drive investment into product redesign and methods to recover and reuse key components.
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 on the ESA website.