A new report highlights billion-pound economy boost to be had in better resource efficiency
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is calling on the government to introduce a landfill ban for food waste and lower the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) on recycled products to help boost the circular economy and end the “throwaway society”.
The calls come in a new report, Growing a circular economy: Ending the throwaway society, which has been issued following an inquiry into whether it is possible to de-couple economic growth from natural resource use, and what roles household recycling and the waste management sector have in the circular economy (where resources are reused and recycled rather than disposed of).
Following several evidence sessions, which asked members of the waste and resources industry, as well as MPs, to identify the economic and environmental benefits of growing a circular economy and what conditions government needs to set to help develop it, the EAC report concluded that a “disposable society simply isn’t sustainable in the 21st century,” but that “with the right government support we can stimulate UK manufacturing, create jobs, grow our GDP and reduce our environmental footprint.”
According to the report, there “are potentially billions of pounds of benefits for businesses across the economy by becoming more resource efficient,” and although central government “recognises this opportunity,” rather than “scaling up its work, it is cutting it back”. It concluded that government’s approach “lacks leadership,” and should look to, among other things, standardise recycling collections across local authorities.
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The report offers government a raft of recommendations to boost the circular economy including: supporting the European Commission’s proposals to recycle 70% of waste by 2030; introducing tax allowances for businesses that repair goods or promote reuse and working towards a ban on products that cannot be recycled.
Speaking about the report, EAC chair Joan Walley MP said: “We had throwaway economics in the past, but that disposable society simply isn’t sustainable in the 21st century. Less than half of all the stuff we throw away each year is recycled and turned back into something useful, despite prices for raw materials rising across the world.
“Unless we rethink the way we run our economy and do business in a different way, environmental problems like climate change will get worse and the cost of living and doing business in the UK could continue to rise. The good news is that, with the right government support, we can stimulate UK manufacturing, create jobs, grow our GDP and reduce our environmental footprint.”
This article was first published by Resource Magazine