A recent study by Green Alliance and Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has predicted that the waste management sector could create over 200,000 jobs in the next 15 years.
The study suggests a link between the growing national and global problems of unemployment and scarce natural resources. It focusses on the development and benefits of a circular economy, which promotes reuse and recycling to keep resources in use for as long as possible, as opposed to using traditional disposal methods such as landfill, which can be wasteful and environmentally damaging. Resource efficiency is an increased area of research and development, with reuse, biorefining, closed loop recycling, open loop recycling, servitisation and remanufacturing outlined by the study as the main areas of growth (see below).
Along with predicted developments towards a circular economy in the UK, the study suggests that we will see a corresponding increase in labour requirement. The UK is becoming increasingly efficient in terms of resource use; if growth continues at the current development rate, it suggests, 205,000 new jobs will be created by 2030, with a 54,000 drop in unemployment. If the circular economy were to develop more rapidly, the study claims that the industry could create around half a million jobs in the same timeframe.
The report is published at a time of uncertainty concerning future employment, as skilled labour is being replaced by advanced technology and mechanical processes across many industries. Another advantage, according to the report, is that jobs are likely to be created in areas with current high levels of unemployment such as the North East, with an increased demand in low and semi-skilled jobs.
Recycling Lives have identified a similar link between environmental development and social issues such as unemployment; our commercial recycling and waste management services focus on responsible recycling and reuse, with a commitment to diverting waste from landfill wherever possible. Through these services, we sustain our own social welfare charity which helps homeless and disadvantaged people to get back on their feet through a programme of training, work experience and support. Additionally, we provide similar employment programmes and training in partnership with other nationally recognised charities.
As Recycling Lives expand our closed-loop recycling, reuse and refurbishment services, we will provide more employment in the UK, enacting the predictions of the study.
To find out more about Recycling Lives, go to www.recyclinglives.com or read about our social welfare charity at www.recyclinglives.org.
Reuse: retaining more of the original value of the product by using it again without any major alterations.
Biorefining: extracting small quantities of valuable materials or creating energy from waste, for industries creating biowaste.
Closed loop recycling: creating new products from waste without changing the inherent properties of the original material.
Open loop recycling: using recovered materials to create products which have a lower value than those used in closed loop recycling.
Servitisation: a system which increases the effective use of assets, including moving from providing products to services instead.
Remanufacturing: preserving value by repairing products.