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Putting a positive spin on where the recycling market is headed and how it will support the whole UK in creating future jobs, a recent report by Green Alliance shows that reusing and recycling waste materials could create 200,000 jobs.

According to the report reusing and recycling discarded materials could not only lead to a boost in productivity but could also see a rise in jobs within high unemployment areas.

According to Green Alliance a new breed of companies that embrace recycling and servicing goods to prolong their lifespan would stimulate the increase in jobs.

The report argues that the transition could create jobs in areas of high unemployment that specialise in services exported to the rest of the country.

Green Alliance director Matthew Spencer comments:

“At a time when many are worried about where jobs will come from in future, it is a tantalising prospect to have a sector which offers a wide range of new jobs right across the country, especially in regions with high unemployment,

“To be able to stimulate these new jobs in remanufacturing and reuse we will need government to play its part in setting higher standards for product and resource recovery.”

Another report written with recycling charity Wrap, the ‘Employment and the Circular Economy’, states by 2030 there would be 205,000 extra jobs, a 54,000 drop in unemployment, and an offset 11 per cent of future job losses in skilled employment  . It goes on to specify that unlike other industrial revolutions, Britain can develop a more efficient use of resources that requires more labour.

Economist Stephen Machin, a professor at University College London adds to this:  

“Creating jobs with decent pay as innovative technologies evolve is a challenge given the UK’s traditional difficulties in generating good jobs for workers with low and intermediate skills. 

“This report emphasises the need for this kind of job creation especially given the decline in jobs in the middle tier of the labour market.”


Can a circular economy create more jobs?

Although there are signs of the unemployment rate falling, the UK faces many economic challenges in its use of labour and scarce natural resources.

While Britain has considerably increased its resource efficiency in recent years, supply risks in a highly competitive global economy means that we need to get better at using natural resources.

One way of improving resource efficiency is to develop what is known as a ‘circular economy’. The circular economy and its business models indicate that by designing goods to last longer, we can obviously extend the lifespan and reparability of our goods. By following this process we are making it easier to recover the materials when a product reaches the recycling phase while supporting the remanufacturing industry and waste hierarchy.

This process not only protects the environment but also offers significant economic benefits such as greater economic stability through increased resource security and the creation of new businesses which naturally provides more employment opportunities from a growing sector. It is estimated that regions that have higher unemployment rates such as the North East and West Midlands could see the biggest impact in job creation, especially among low to mid skilled occupations where job losses are projected for the future.

Walter R. Stahel, originator of the circular economy concept, said:

“A circular economy will directly create numerous jobs with a broad diversity of skills at local and regional level, and give rise to new SMEs exploiting opportunities in the local loops.

In addition, a circular economy will create skilled jobs to develop the innovative processes and technologies needed “to most profitably close the loops”, innovations which can be sold abroad.” 

Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP said:

“We’ve long been talking about the benefits of the resource efficiency agenda, working with businesses and turning ideas into action. But this report is the first of its kind that pinpoints exactly who, what and where could benefit from the implementation of the circular economy. This signals a major new opportunity for Britain’s economy, and could deliver jobs where they’re needed the most.”

Tony Baker, GPT Waste comments:

“The notion a “Circular Economy” will create jobs in the UK Waste Management sector is an interesting one. The eliminate, reuse and recycling categories from the “Waste Hierarchy” are currently seen as main contributors to the circular concept from our industry.

Other circular economy activities such as repair, refurbish and remanufacture are less so. It is most likely that these activities will provide the scope for job creation opportunities in the “waste” sector.

Might we even see less recyclable material finding its way to the re-processors as a result of the recently introduced MRF code of practice and the legislation introduced in January to strive for higher quality recyclables?

Waste Producers may be in for a rude awakening when they find that Waste Collectors and Material Facilities refuse/reject their recyclables offering due to poor quality/poor source segregation”.


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