Circular economy means fabulous future

A new report shows a promising future for the UK, with huge exports and increased employment – if the country recycles its waste more efficiently.

Between now and 2020, there could be 10,000 new jobs created, and net exports of more than £20 billion, according to “Going for Growth”, recently published by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and WRAP.

This is a conservative estimate, too. Other sectors could benefit to the tune of £50 billion per year in energy savings; and if reuse is promoted over recycling, there could be even more employment created and increased GDP, with 50,000 new jobs and a £3 billion boost to the UK’s annual output.

To increase efficiency and reuse, it will be necessary to design waste out of the life cycle of products and achieve a circular economy, using it as a resource. This is particularly important for electrical and electronic equipment, because approximately 12 million tonnes of WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) is going to be produced.

Liz Goodwin, Chief Executive of WRAP, said:

    “Think of the growth and job opportunities for keeping our material on UK shores. We hear so much about growth, and the circular economy is a key enabler [of growth]. Growth equals job creation, opportunities for investment, and generating shareholder returns.”

At Recycling Lives, we are delighted to learn about the “Going for Growth” report, because we agree entirely that waste is a valuable resource. We have been championing reuse and recycling since we began our operations in the early 1970s.

Since then, we have built up our social business and have experienced particularly rapid growth during the past few years; we made the CIWM’s “Waste’s Fast 30” list last year.

Our success is something about which we are extremely pleased and proud, but it has been hard won. It is not easy to develop innovative techniques to deal with a vast range of different types of commercial and household waste, but we have done this – and we continue to drive our social business forward.

There are two great examples of our commitment to achieving a circular economy: our manufacturing processes to convert waste plastics and waste glass into new products. Polymers are processed to make strong beams for the construction industry, and glass is converted into tiles. Both waste materials are by-products of WEEE, too.

Committing ourselves to reuse and recycling also enables us to sustain a social welfare charity, which supports homeless people to find work and accommodation, as well as to access training courses to help them succeed in future.

The charity’s Residents often end up working in waste management and recycling when they finish their support programme – they are proof of the job creation potential in our sector!