Friends of the Earth is calling on the UK Government to set more ambitious recycling targets following a report which found more than 50,000 new jobs could be created if the country’s recycling target was increased to 70% by 2025.
Currently, the UK is aiming to recycle 50% of its municipal waste by 2020. It would create 32,500 jobs by 2025 at a 55% recycling rate. But if the UK was to set the same target as Wales and Scotland to recycle 70% of municipal waste by 2025, 51,400 new jobs would be created – an increase of almost 20,000 jobs.
In addition, if the UK was to achieve a 70% recycling rate for commercial and industrial waste, it is thought 18,800 extra workers would be needed.
Data has been compiled from best available research for the EU27 and the UK, however FoE admitted there were limitations caused by the data, with the results based on “simple defendable assumptions”.
FoE waste campaigner Julian Kirby said of the study: “Recycling is a win-win for the environment and the economy – saving precious resources and creating many more jobs than expensive and outdated incinerators.
“The Government must be ambitious in setting recycling rates. Better product design, as well as action to stop supermarkets and producers selling products that can’t be recycled, means that we could easily achieve upwards of 75% recycling rates by 2025.”
Currently, 118,000 people work in connection with the UK municipal waste management industry, processing 33.4 million tonnes of waste.
FoE calculated that if the UK achieved a 55% recycling rate in 2025 then 17 million tonnes of recyclables would be collected. However, by increasing this target to 70% by 2025, 21.7 million tonnes of municipal waste could be recycled - an extra 4.7m tonnes of material. In addition it calculated around 51,400 new jobs would be created, the bulk of these in England (42,300).