WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover has said he is “sure” that the UK’s household recycling rate will reach at least 75% within the next 25 years.
Speaking at the ’Resourcing the Future’ conference in London on 28 June, Gover laid out WRAP’s estimates on the UK’s flow of materials by 2040.
It was calculated that, despite a rise in population, the level of domestic consumption would remain at the current level of around 125 million tonnes by 2040.
WRAP estimated that the level of waste will drop by 20 million tonnes and the amount of material reprocessed in the UK will rise by 15 million tonnes. Landfill is projected to drop from 40 to 15 million tonnes.
Gover said a “dramatic” reduction in waste was possible by changes in consumer behaviour and by businesses producing longer-lasting and innovative products.
He said that through progress in repair and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing, it would be possible to add £75bn to the UK economy and create half a million new jobs.
“Much less waste, much less landfill, we’re making things last, we’re making recycling work for the UK and our imports have gone down [by 2040],” he said.
“That’s quite a transformation. You can see the change that’s possible. We don’t need Government to do this … but it helps having policies that drive it.”
Gover added that he expected to have “won the food waste fight” within 25 years.
Referring to a recent appearance on the BBC’s Today programme, he said: “By 2040 I hope I will not be having to stand in front of John Humphries and explain why we still have so much food waste in the UK.”
WRAP will be launching its next consumer food waste prevention strategy later this year.
Its material flow analysis covered the same time period as the long-awaited 25-year environment plan from Defra, which now may be delayed until 2018.
The estimates were extrapolated from 2015 data from a combination of official sources including the Office of National Statistics, Environmental Accounts, Eurostat and HMRC, plus estimates from other sources including existing WRAP research. The data covers covers food, products and packaging and excludes construction and fossil fuels.
The figures for 2040 assumed a 75% recycling rate and that less material would be exported from the UK.
- This article was updated at 5.05pm