- The Environmental Services Association (ESA)—a trade association which includes major companies such as Biffa, Veolia and Viridor—has released a new report making the case for stronger government waste policies in the United Kingdom and the move toward a circular economy.
- The ESA says the UK can do better than its current 45% residential recycling rate and highlights a need to increase the market for waste-derived products, improve collection infrastructure, create new guidelines for producer responsibility, and crack down on illegal operators.
- Energy recovery is also highlighted as an area for potential growth in the report. ESA says the waste industry has helped reduce emissions by diverting material from landfills and is responsible for 12% of the UK's renewable energy. It's estimated that number could reach 15% by 2020.
The United Kingdom's 45% national diversion rate is well above the European Union's 32% average, but it still has room for growth if it's going to reach the target of 50% by 2020. Neighboring countries Germany and Austria have the UK beat at closer to a 60% diversion rate.
Industry leaders point to stalled commodity prices and cuts to renewable energy incentives as areas where governmental intervention is needed. According to the ESA report, the industry currently employs 106,000 people in the UK and with major government investment it could add upward of 50,000 more. Overall job creation from the move toward a circular economy is estimated to be even greater.
The state of London's waste management system has also been in the news lately. The issue was debated among candidates in the recent mayoral election and the winner, Sadiq Khan, has promised to help streamline local systems and increase recycling rates.