The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has said that the waste hierarchy should be revised and recycling and energy recovery would have an equal position in it.
In its report, Waste as a Resource: A Sustainable Way Forward, IMechE noted that the waste hierarchy was developed in the 1990s and still views waste as a problem. It said that it no longer deliver the targets for which it was designed.
IMechE suggests that it should be replaced with a new hierarchy that drives waste prevention at source, climate change mitigation and the recovery of energy and materials.
As well as calling for treating energy recovery and recycling as equals in a revised hierarchy, it argued that there needed to be more effective strategies for processing commercial, industrial, construction, demolition and agricultural waste rather than a focus mostly on the household stream.
Lead author of the report Professor Ian Arbon said: “We need to stop seeing waste as a problem and to start seeing it as a valuable resource and use it to maximum advantage.
“Our proposed modification to the waste hierarchy, which reduces it to four tiers, removes the unhelpful competition between ‘recycling’ and ‘recovery’ and helps to focus attention on minimising landfill.”