ESA report explores what it will take to meet recycling targets

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The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has published the second of two new reports exploring what it will take to meet the (weight-based) recycling targets for the EU Circular Economy Package. 

The report, called ‘Smarter Measures for the Circular Economy’, looks at how recycling rates are measured and explains why weight is not the best way of measuring what is remanufactured into new products. 

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It covers a range of topics including: 

  • Why it’s important to measure more than just the recycling rate and how a change in approach could support a circular economy 
  • Increasing domestic reprocessing capacity – the need to drive manufacturing within the UK by demanding recycling content 
  • The need for material-specific targets linked to the best environmental option for that material 
  • Changes in the way things are produced, consumed and treated  
  • The concept that products containing ‘hard to recycle’ material should attract a cost of recovery charge which could drive investment into redesign and methods to recover and reuse key components 
  • The role of manufacturers, businesses, local residents, public sector and waste management professionals in improving environmental performance.  

ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said: “Current EU waste policy measures success or failure on the basis of how heavy something is when it is recycled. There is clearly scope in a post-Brexit world for us to do something much smarter which actually focuses properly on environmental outcomes and enables us to capture more value from our waste resources.” 

He added: “This report examines how we could bring this about in practice. It offers a clear and pragmatic route-map for introducing new metrics alongside our current weight-based system, which could offer us the future flexibility to phase out the most problematic materials and de-carbonise our waste and recycling systems most effectively.” 

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