More than 50,000 new jobs would be created across the country if the UK increased its recycling targets, according to a report launched today by Friends of the Earth.
The report, More jobs, less waste, argues that at least 51,400 new jobs would be created across the UK if we recycled 70 per cent of the waste collected by local councils. And a further 18,800 jobs could be created if we recycled commercial and industrial waste at the same rate.
The UK's management of municipal waste currently sustains around 118,000 jobs, processing 33.4 million tonnes of waste in 2008. The report finds that recycling creates around 10 times more jobs per tonne than sending rubbish to landfill or incineration.
But if the UK only recycles 50 per cent of council-collected waste - the minimum required by 2020 under EU law - then we would lose out on nearly 25,000 jobs.
Wales and Scotland have both recently announced that they plan to recycle 70 per cent of council-collected waste by 2025, yet Northern Ireland and England - the latter is where the vast majority of waste is generated - are still aiming to recycle only 50 per cent.
The coalition government has announced a review of waste policy in England. The early results of the review are expected in spring 2011. The Government is also consulting on the implementation of the EU Waste Framework Directive, which sets a minimum 50 per cent recycling rate for municipal waste. Friends of the Earth is calling on the government to set ambitious recycling targets as part of these reviews.
"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 per cent recycling rates by 2025," said Friends of the Earth's waste campaigner Julian Kirby. "If the Coalition is serious about creating a green, jobs-rich economy then it must unlock the wealth in our waste and help consumers to recycle as much as possible."
The report bases the number of jobs which would be created on projections for the number of jobs created directly per tonne of waste recycled (29,379 jobs at 70 per cent municipal waste recycling rate), plus the number of "indirect" (14,689) and "induced" (7,345) jobs created consequently in the wider economy.
The study was written for Friends of the Earth by economist Anna MacGillivray from Ursus Consulting, with additional data analysis and peer review provided by Dr Julian Parfitt of Resource Futures.
The authors produced several scenarios within a "New Austerity" context of a stabilised rate of generation of waste, considered the most likely. They analysed a range of datasets to create conservative projections for the number of jobs created within the UK (compared to 2006) and across the EU (compared to 2008) by recycling either 50 per cent or 70 per cent of various waste streams.
Return to green news headlines
View Green News Archive