A new report released by Defra has shown that the value of exported recycled material makes a direct net positive contribution to the UK trade balance of £3.9 billion. The report is intended to look closely at the recent and future contribution to wider growth by increasing the value of waste, resource efficiency and the export of goods and services.
Exports Could Boost UK Trade Balance
The report found that recovered materials through recycling are often exported back the where it was originally manufactured and that the British reprocessing sector is not large enough to use up all materials recovered throughout the country. One of the prime examples for why material is being exported is with paper, of which 7.9 million tonnes is consumed annually, but only 4.6 million tonnes is manufactured.
The report stated: “This also contributes to improving the UK trade balance compared to not collecting/recycling the material. In 2013, the UK exported 13 million tonnes of key recovered materials (metals, paper, plastics and textiles) worth £4.35 billion.
“This accounted for 8% by weight of all UK export of goods, supporting economic activity in the shipping and ports sector and providing a source of revenue for vessels that might otherwise be leaving the UK empty. Given the UK imports relatively few recovered materials (0.8 million tonnes), the direct net positive contribution to the UK trade balance is worth £3.9 billion.”
Other findings of the report show how well the UK is doing now that it has finally broke free from the problems which were caused by the recession back in 2007/8. One element of this is the price of materials which has recovered considerably since the financial crisis, although there are downward pressures in the short and medium term, particularly for plastics.
Over the long term the signs are positive, with global resource demand expected to treble between 2000 and 2050. It argues that as the economy recovers worldwide, there will be strong economic incentives on resource efficiency and developing substitute raw materials which go some way towards solving the current material problems.
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