Recycling by manufacturers may have levelled off


Manufacturers may have reached the limit of recycling they are able to do, a new report suggests.

The Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) said in its report on the Waste Framework Directive and Waste Review that residual waste is not cost effective to recycle for manufacturers. It said that its research showed 80 to 90 per cent of manufacturers are recycling, but the increase in recycling from manufacturers may have levelled off.


It added that segregating and recovering some waste stream may be uneconomical as there will be additional costs to manufacturers in putting resource into separating material that may not be recovered by either the value of the material or in reduced waste management costs.

The Waste Framework Directive now makes it a legal requirement for companies to consider the waste hierarchy when disposing of waste. To help manufacturing companies meet this requirement, it is calling on local authorities to help small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies by offering them the use of council recycling services.

EEF head of climate and environment Gareth Stace said: “Waste has been a tough nut to crack and this new requirement should act as a wake up call for both manufacturers and Government.

“Manufacturers have already taken significant action as they have long recognised that it makes good business sense to cut out waste from their operations. However, recovery and recycling have now reached a mature stage within company operations and industry can only make further progress if government unlocks barriers created by lack of investment in infrastructure. Now is the time for government to make a big leap forward and shake up this stagnant area of policy.

“In particular, £23 billion of efficiency savings identified by Government will largely be forgotten unless a clear understanding of why such a significant figure can still exist and the barriers that need to be removed for manufacturers to readily access these savings. We have also long said that the regulatory framework on waste can be confusing and the uncertainty of compliance can impede progress. Regulatory burdens need to be eased where possible and the Government needs to raise the profile of waste as an issue. For example, awareness of the requirements that come in today is low among manufacturers, yet the Government has done little to promote this.

“The requirements on waste in general are anticipated to increase, rather than reduce, with new measures being brought in through the environmental permitting regime. Often perceived barriers hinder progress, therefore better information on permit requirements can unlock potential solutions. Even fairly straightforward change, such as manufacturer’s access to local authority waste management facilities would significantly help SMEs to operate more efficiently by reducing waste going to landfill. The long awaited UK guidance on the definition of waste has yet to materialise, but could act as a catalyst for manufacturers seeking to get the best values out of limited resources.”