UK loses £650 million a year from failing to recycle

October 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

The UK is throwing away a vast amount of rubbish that could be recycled, wasting hundreds of millions of pounds each year as a result.

In a report from Friends of the Earth entitled ‘Gone to Waste: The Valuable Resources that European Countries Bury and Burn’, the charity revealed that 24 million tonnes of recyclable products are being sent to landfill or being incinerated each year. If these products were sold, £650 million could be made each year.

Recycling these products would also reduce CO2 emissions by 19 million tonnes, by eliminating the need for the new products being made in the first place. It would also increase jobs in the green sector and help to reduce the reliance on imports.

The report looked into the EU as a whole, and found that a staggering €5 billion was being wasted every year due to the failure to recycle more.

Many materials are lucrative when recycled. A tonne of aluminium can be sold for around £450. The UK is wasting more on failing to recycle textiles and plastics, which can sell for £175 and £90 a tonne respectively, than any other country in Europe.

Dr Michael Warhurst from Friends of the Earth said that the low recycling rate in the UK is “economic madness,” adding that “it’s time we recognised the real value of the materials we throw away every day.”

Friends of the Earth is now calling for a ban on sending recyclable materials to landfill, as well as preventing the construction of more incinerators.

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