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‘Switch UK recycling targets from weight’

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), which represents waste management companies in the UK, has called for new recycling targets not to be based on the current metric of weight.

It has published a report, ‘Smarter Measures for the Circular Economy’, which concludes that weight is often not the best way of measuring what is actually remanufactured into new products. An alternative such as carbon would be better, the ESA says, depending on the material in question.

It is also suggesting that charges or taxes be added for products made from hard-to-recycle materials, the proceeds of which would drive better design to aid recyclability.

Post Brexit era  

The consultancy Ricardo was commissioned to assess what would be needed to meet the weight-based targets included in the European Union’s Circular Economy package. The new directives will form part of UK law regardless of Brexit.

ESA Executive Director, Jacob Hayler points out that 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.

Problematic materials

‘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.’

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