"Generally, most people now understand that resources are becoming scarcer and that it is down to both individuals and companies to make the most of them and to also reduce the amount of waste they initially generate. However, with populations rising and the most developed global economies seeing improved activity, new technologies and processes are needed to counteract these threats to achieving lower waste arisings levels."
– Lewis Cone, B2B Analyst
This report will explore the following key questions regarding waste management in the UK:
- What are the key determinants driving the waste management industry?
- Has the industry recovered alongside the economy after the financial crisis? If so, how has it developed and changed since the recession?
- How have government schemes influenced market demand and supply?
- How have regulations and the threat of climate change changed the industry’s approach?
- What are the key issues that the industry needs to address to diversify its service and compete in the long term?
- What does the future hold for UK waste management?
Waste management in the UK has changed significantly over the last decade, particularly in the last six years as the EU implemented several directives, regarding landfill, recycling and reuse, for member states to abide by. The UK has reduced the amount of waste deposited at landfill sites and has been fairly active in recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion. Progress has also been made towards improving recyclate quality and moving from ‘down-cycling’ to closed-loop recycling.
However, English recycling rates have stagnated over the last two years, while those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued to improve. With the economy expected to experience stable GDP growth over the next four years, the UK faces a tough challenge in reducing overall waste arisings and improving disposal, treatment and collection efficiencies. The European Commission’s new waste directives, expected to be announced later this year, will drive any future UK policy action.
The waste management industry responded well to the first wave of EU directives implemented from 2012, but with stagnating recycling rates and the improving economic climate, the industry will have to do even more to tackle the factors that drive waste generation. The expected announcement by the European Commission detailing its plans for waste management in late 2015 will give the UK government a definitive direction to follow over the forthcoming years.
However, significant changes also depend on the government’s own policy direction, such as whether to ban food waste from landfill. The potential overcapacity problem at waste treatment sites will have a knock-on effect across the industry so it is important that companies continue to diversify and find the most efficient ways of managing waste materials without incurring the greatest financial and environmental costs.
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