Circular Economy Task Force – Wasted Opportunities: Smarter Systems for Resource Recovery
This is the second report of the Circular Economy Task Force, a business led group convened by Green Alliance. It is a forum for policy innovation which aims to disseminate information and recommendations on the best responses to sustainable resource security.
This report marks the end of year two for the Circular Economy Task Force. At the end of year one, a roadmap was drawn for a circular economy in Resource Resilient UK, giving a series of actions for businesses and the government that would yield real progress. The risks of not acting were also explained.
British recycling policy is based on outdated assumptions about resources, which reinforce an expensive, stagnating system: recycling rates were up just 0.2 per cent between 2012 and 2013. In contrast, a circular approach, focused on preserving the value of collected materials, could enable the private sector to deliver £2 billion of investment in recovery infrastructure, capturing £1.7 billion in material and reuse value each year.
We can’t ignore the poor outcomes that result from our existing recovery systems: less than half of our waste is recycled despite manufacturers’ demand for recycled materials, including amongst members of the Circular Economy Task Force. Much that is recycled is downcycled into less useful, lower value products. The result is that councils are spending more on waste management than housing or planning, while valuable raw materials are lost and businesses are left frustrated by a lack of usable recycled materials.