Designing goods for circular economy worth £1.4 billion

4th July 2013


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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Stewardship ,
  • Life Cycle Analysis ,
  • Ecodesign ,
  • Procurement

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IEMA

Adopting a life-cycle approach to product design could prevent more than 140 million tonnes of recoverable waste being sent to landfill by 2020

The change would generate £1.4 billion for the UK economy, says the Environmental Services Association (ESA) in a new report.

The ESA estimates that 395 million tonnes of potentially recyclable waste will be processed in England by the end of the decade, but says that on current trends only 255 million tonnes will have been recovered and reused.

It wants the waste sector to work more closely with product designers to ensure resource recovery at the end of a product’s life is considered at the outset, and that more recycled materials are used in goods.

“If we work together to change the way products are designed, we can avoid the current trend of one-third of potentially recyclable material being lost to the economy,” said ESA chair David Palmer-Jones. “This is vital for resource efficiency and security and to reduce environmental impacts, including greenhouse-gas emissions. The future of our industry is to turn all waste into a productive resource.”

In its report, the ESA champions the “great recovery” programme from the Royal Society of Arts, which aims to engage product designers with the circular economy. It argues that, if best practice approaches to waste recovery were adopted by all large retailers, an extra 2.5 million tonnes of recyclate would be collected by 2020, with a value of £250 million.

The waste body also wants EU policymakers to do more to support the circular economy, recommending that recyclability requirements are set for some products using powers in the Ecodesign Directive (2005/32/EC) and that VAT rates are reduced for goods that contain a high proportion of recycled materials.

Meanwhile, research carried out for IT company Hewlett Packard suggests that government plans to simplify the producer responsibility regulations for electrical and electronic waste would save businesses and local authorities up to £64 million each year.


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