Environmental goods and services have been highlighted as a strong growth sector by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson in a speech on job creation.
At a London Jobs Summit, Mandelson broadly outlined how the Government would help businesses get through the recession.
He highlighted the potential growth and opportunity that the low carbon and environmental services sectors offered. But he stopped short of directly naming the recycling and waste industry. He also called for a renaissance in UK manufacturing and an expansion of the UKs knowledge based industries.
Environmental Services Association chief executive Dirk Hazell said: As part of the low carbon agenda, the Government should be pursuing energy-from-waste, recycling and anaerobic digestion as well as accelerating its own green procurement.
Speaking at the Summit, Mandelson said: The global market for low carbon and environmental goods and services is currently worth about £3 trillion, and it is projected to grow strongly over the next decade as both the developed and the emerging world makes the shift to low carbon or post-carbon.
There are over 800,000 people in the UK employed in this sector once you factor in the supply chain. Many of them are employed in renewable energy industries, but around half are employed in emerging low-carbon areas such as alternative fuels and low carbon design and development. There are also tens of thousands of people employed in services industries like environmental consultancy and carbon finance. So this is a job revolution that cuts right across all sectors of the economy.
The UK's environmental goods and services sector is the sixth biggest globally and is projected to grow substantially over the next decade.
If the UK takes advantage of the opportunities available and realises this growth, we could see over a million jobs in this sector by the middle of the next decade. But he added that the sector was fearsomely competitive.
A Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform spokeswoman would not confirm that recycling and waste were part of the Governments plans. She said more details would be included in the release of the Governments low carbon industrial strategy, expected in a few weeks time.