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How Brexit Can Influence Waste & Recycling in the UK

Posted on 23rd June 2017 by Hintons

If there’s one topic that’s always on everyone’s lips nowadays – for better or worse – it’s Brexit. The referendum result has had a knock-on effect in all walks of life – most recently the inflation rate, which has increased to 2.9% – and the waste clearance and recycling industry is no different. But how may Brexit influence waste and recycling in the UK? It may negatively affect the benefits of waste management, or it could be seized upon as a great opportunity to make our waste management more robust and beneficial.
Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union.Brexit concept.

Richard Howard of Policy Exchange Investigates

A recent report from Richard Howard, Director of Development & Head of Environment & Energy at Policy Exchange, argues that Brexit is an opportunity to reframe waste management policy in the UK to better reflect the needs of the UK.
Howard’s report, entitled Going Round in Circles: Developing a new approach to waste policy following Brexit, recognises that there are some notable successes of EU waste policy. For instance, EU policy has resulted in:

  • A 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from waste management and 99% fewer dioxin emissions from waste incinerators since 1990
  • 16% less waste generated overall since 2000
  • A 20% reduction in resource consumption since 2003
  • An increase from 12% municipal recycling in 2000 to 43% in 2014

But the shortcomings of EU policy cost the UK and UK businesses, Howard argues. He claims that unclear objectives, a failure to reflect UK context, ignoring the fundamentals and poor data and definitions mean UK competitiveness and productivity are negatively affected by current EU waste policy. Fortunately, Brexit provides ample opportunity to address this.

The Future of Waste Policy in the UK

By first incorporating EU waste policy into UK law, Howard argues that we can then begin reframing the legislation to suit our needs. He highlights a number of areas to focus on, including:

  • Developing a carbon-based metric to manage total greenhouse gas emissions from waste management
  • Adjusting policy to focus more on waste prevention and reuse, rather than management
  • Tips, or Household Waste and Recycling Centres as they are formally known, to be used as collection points for reusable items to be redistributed or resold to charities, a practice that’s currently illegal
  • Local authorities to submit to one of three waste management systems, as opposed to the nearly 400 they currently adhere to
  • Government stimulation of markets for scrap metals and innovation encouragement to boost productivity and competitiveness in industry
  • Government promotion of efficient forms of energy from waste, instead of shipping waste to other countries for them to produce energy there

One of the greatest opportunities ahead is the limiting of our carbon footprint. Out of the EU, we will be exempt from sending vast quantities of our waste to the Netherlands, a costly procedure that doesn’t bring in revenue or energy to the UK. Instead, we can dispose of our waste domestically, burning it to produce energy for the UK.
But as you can see, there are far more opportunities than this alone. In the coming years, we’ll need to work hard to ensure an evermore appropriate and sustainable waste management system is implemented following Brexit, but whatever happens you’ll be able to rely on Hinton’s Waste to deliver first class waste management services.
If you’re in need of waste management in London and Croydon, or would like to find out more information about the benefits of waste management, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team.

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