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Return to growth 'a danger to resource efficiency'

WRAP director Marcus Gover has warned that economic growth could mean households and businesses losing focus on preventing waste.

The warning comes in an article in the current issue of MRW in which Gover look ahead to the prospects for the waste industry in 2013.

Marcus Gover

Gover notes that less strained budgets are more able to absorb the costs of waste and says: “As we (slowly!) return to economic growth, the incentive for households to reduce waste may diminish.”

Another issue he identifies is: “Lower commodity price inflation may reduce pressure on retailers and brands to pursue innovation in packaging.”

It also means that when the largest efficiency savings have already been achieved, finding new ones will appear less attractive.

Stronger economic growth worldwide will drive up oil prices and damage the UK’s recycling industry, Gover says. Shipping to China, our main recyclate trading partner, will become more expensive and their own economic slowdown will hurt exports further.

Small companies will be affected too, says Gover, particularly “those in the business of transporting low-value bulky waste such as cullet and wood”.

He says the solution to the uncertainty of commodity prices is to adopt more of a circular economy which can deliver “reduced resource price volatility, lower supply chain risks, potential employment benefits and reduced pressure from external drivers”.

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