At the Resource 2014 conference, the UK’s progress towards establishing a circular economy was brought into question. Looking closely at how the waste management hierarchy can benefit the UK’s efforts, it was stated that greater focus was needed to tackle resource consumption.
Achieving A Circular Economy With The Waste Management Hierarchy
During a panel discussion at the Resource 2014 conference in London on March 4th 2013, WRAP chief executive, Liz Goodwin, commented on the rate at which recycling rates had improved over the last 10 years. Whilst Dr Goodwin praised the efforts made, she also said that in order to move towards a circular economy, which champions the waste management hierarchy, the issue of resource consumption much first be addressed.
Dr Goodwin said “I am quite disappointed at how much progress we have made because it has been pitifully slow. We need some real examples of businesses getting a circular economy working and that will help.”
The waste management hierarchy, which promotes reuse and recycling over disposal, can help both the public and businesses shift their views on waste. Dr Goodwin said “There is still work to do on recycling targets. But we have got to move on to the whole consumption issue. We have now got some really big challenges in terms of thinking about difficult business materials and using less stuff.”
Speaking at the Resource 2014 conference, Dr Goodwin discussed how in order to achieve a circular zero waste economy, we must assess how we treat resources. By ‘trading in and upgrading products rather than throwing them away’, the UK has the potential to develop a thriving, circular economy that could drive change.
Will Waste Management Legislation Change?
Also speaking on the panel were a number of representatives from the waste and recycling industry. Discussing how to drive businesses towards a circular economy which favours the waste management hierarchy, panellists agreed that there needs to be a greater collaboration between legislation and businesses in order to limit waste sent to landfill. There is the ability to drive change, but it is now a lack of desire to change habits, which is the major barrier.
Praising the improvements made in the recycling sector, it was also said that the government should use economics to push for change. Whilst legislation is a powerful tool, business decisions are also driven by economics. The current landfill tax has played a large role in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, so there is nothing to stop similar legislations being used to promote a circular economy.
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