The current linear way the UK’s economy consumes resources — where materials are extracted, made into a product, used and discarded — is not sustainable and needs to be changed to a circular economy, according to a report by the UK Environmental Audit Committee.
The committee was appointed by the British House of Commons to review government policies and programs and their contribution to environmental protection and sustainable development.
The report says a circular approach of re-using resources and maximizing their value over time makes environmental and economic sense, and there are potentially billions of pounds of benefits for UK businesses by becoming more resource efficient.
Although the committee acknowledged that the UK government is involved in initiatives to support a more circular economy, it also criticized it for cutting back those efforts instead of increasing them, stating that its approach lacked leadership.
The committee offered a long list of recommendations, including:
- lower taxes for businesses that repair or re-use goods;
- mandatory municipal waste separation systems;
- longer warranty periods for consumer goods;
- increased funding for agencies that promote transitioning to a circular economy;
- a ban on sending food waste to landfills;
- having the UK Green Investment Bank finance innovative technologies that support a circular economy;
- aligning policies for recovering resources and generating energy; and
- embedding the concept of a circular economy into the UK’s industrial strategy.
The UK has been under fire both internally and externally of late for its lackluster environmental efforts. In June, UK plastic recycling giant ECO Plastics warned lawmakers that England risks missing its EU recycling targets because of government cuts.
Photo Credit: UK recycling via Shutterstock