According to a new study published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), further progress can be made to prevent waste, reduce costs and generate revenue from waste through ‘better regulation’.
The Environment Agency launched 11 new End of Waste Quality Criteria by 2014, which could help businesses save £139m a year through reduced waste management costs by 2020. It could also generate a further £355m a year through the sale of ‘new’ resource that would otherwise needed to be disposed of.
In total, between 2014/15 and 2020/21, these changes are projected to be worth £3.58bn to businesses, according to Defra.
Resource Manager, Dan Rogerson from Defra said:
“I asked for this analysis be developed as in tough economic times it’s important we have a robust understanding of the contribution of waste and resource management to the growth”.
The figure is part of new research from the Defra’s Resource Management – a catalyst for growth and productivity report, which shows businesses need to look at waste as a valuable resource and use re-use, repair and remanufacture schemes to boost their income.
The report also shows the global market for waste management is set to grow significantly from $548bn in 2013 to $1,047bn in 2020.
According to estimates, the core waste sector generated £6.8bn in gross value added (GVA) and supported 103,000 jobs in 2013. Broadening the definition to include repair, re-use and leasing activity that help extend the life of products, the contribution to the economy could be much greater, Defra says.
Data for 2013 suggests it could have been as high as £41bn to approximate GVA and 672,000 jobs, with £18.9bn of this being generated in the automotive sector. Defra says, however, that it is difficult to determine exactly how much of this directly relates to activity that extends the life of products and reduces waste.
Dan Rogerson said:
“Using our resources more carefully is not only good for the environment, it’s also vital to build a stronger economy.”
The findings of the Defra analysis suggest that the waste and resource management sector already makes a significant contribution to the economy, and is finding new ways to extract greater value from waste.
It also found that the wider economy is becoming increasingly more resource efficient and that significant opportunities remain for businesses and the wider economy during the transition to a more sustainable economy.
Further statistics covered in the report reveal the UK is extracting more value from our waste, it showed that the gross value added to the economy per tonne of waste has increased by 33%, from £32 in 2004 to £43 in 2012. This is despite significant reductions in the amount we dispose of.
The UK is also extracting value through energy recovery. In 2013 £447.4m (9005 GWh) of electricity was generated through energy recovery in the waste sector, £35.1m (707 GWh) of which was from anaerobic digestion.
Defra has also proposed working with key sector bodies to raise awareness of global export opportunities, explore the drivers of value creation at each rung of the hierarchy and explore the opportunities presented by emerging technologies.
Defra also hopes to better understand the extent to which UK companies with waste and resource management solutions are looking to act upon them, and discuss the respective roles of sector bodies, UKTI, BIS and Defra in helping them do so.
It also wants to explore how the drivers of value creation at each rung of the hierarchy are likely to change over time, to help strengthen its understanding of the extent to which the market is likely to continue to deliver increases in productivity.
The Environmental Services Association’s executive director Jacob Hayler said:
“ESA welcomes this analysis which clearly demonstrates the huge contribution that the waste and resources sector makes to the UK’s economy.
“The industry has gone through a period of radical change during the last 10 years and is now extracting more value from waste than ever before. This is helping to create thousands of productive and skilled jobs all around the country.
“But at the same time, we mustn’t shy away from the fact that these are currently hard times for the recycling industry. Recyclers are struggling as local authority cost pressures are leading to more contaminated material being pushed on to the market which has little, if any, value.
“The resource sector’s true potential – as recognised in Defra’s report – will not be realised unless we can fix a broken supply chain which, at the moment, is not producing the valuable outputs the market demands.”
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