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Thursday, 04 January 2018 14:19

Opinion: China ban highlights our need to reduce waste

How the UK should best deal with the Chinese waste import restrictions is commented upon by Alastair Chisholm, CIWEM's Director of Policy.

ciwem on plastic main copy"Whilst this is a big challenge for recyclers in the short term, longer-term we need to look beyond recycling and dramatically increase materials efficiency and reduce the amount of products in our economy that become waste at all.

"By 2050 the global population is predicted to rise to around 9 billion, at the same time many are becoming more affluent and consuming more goods, with demand for raw materials set to treble as a result.

"Given that we are already living unsustainably on the planet in terms of our resource use and pollution, these projections are deeply sobering. We need to move to circular economies as a matter of urgency.

ciwem plastic alastair"Part of the problem is that the costs of managing waste from any product (such as recycling it or cleaning up any pollution it causes) are not normally factored into its price. Pricing typically reflects only manufacture and distribution costs, leaving wider society to foot the bill for the impacts of that product turning into waste.

"Until we incorporate whole life costs into product pricing we won't move to the resource efficient, circular economies we need to be sustainable.Alastair has provided a more in-depth blog on the issue here

"For some years now there has been a policy void in government when it comes to waste. We have had an imperfect market driving things in arguably the wrong direction and it's no surprise that recycling rates during this period have plateaued.

"Thankfully government has placed resource productivity at the heart of its new Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth plan, and the forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan and Resources and Waste Strategies provide the opportunity for deliver some much needed and bold policy."

LINKS
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
Alastair has provided a more in-depth blog on the issue here