70% recycling could create 51,400 jobs, claims FoE

By Nick Mann 

At least 51,400 new jobs would be created if the UK reached a 70% municipal waste recycling rate by 2025, a report published today (September 14) by Friends of the Earth has claimed.

In the study, entitled ‘More jobs, less waste', the environmental campaign group also claimed that a further 18,800 jobs could be created across the recycling and waste management sector and in related industries if the same goal was set for commercial and industrial waste.


But, Friends of the Earth (FoE) also said that, if the UK only achieved a 50% municipal waste recycling by 2020 – as is required by the revised Waste Framework Directive – rising to 55% by 2025, then only 32,500 new jobs would be created.

As a result, it called on the coalition government to bring its recycling goals in line with those in place in Wales and Scotland, where the devolved administrations have set both set targets to recycle 70% of household waste by 2025.

The group's waste campaigner, Julian Kirby, said: “The Government must be ambitious in setting recycling rates – better product design, as well as action to stop supermarkets and producers selling products that can't be recycled, means that we could easily achieve upwards of 75% recycling rates by 2025.

“If the Coalition is serious about creating a green, jobs-rich economy then it must unlock the wealth in our waste and help consumers to recycle as much as possible.”


The report claims that, of the 33.4 million tonnes of municipal waste that was generated in the UK in 2008, 12.2 million tonnes was recycled, with 118,000 people being employed in waste management businesses – including collection, recycling and sale for reuse of recyclable materials.

And, it points to other research which it says shows that recycling provides approximately 10 times more jobs per tonne of material processed than incineration or landfill.

As such, it claims that introducing 70% targets across the UK would create 29,400 “direct” new jobs in recycling, 14,700 “indirect” jobs in supply chains and 7,300 “induced” jobs in the wider economy relative to 2006.

Of these potential 51,400 jobs, 42,300 would be in England, 4,700 in Scotland, 2,600 in Wales and 1,800 in Northern Ireland, the report adds.

It envisages a similar situation if a 70% goal for C&I waste was introduced, with 10,800 of the 18,800 new jobs being “direct”, 5,400 “indirect” and 2,700 “induced”, and again the majority of the new jobs being based in England.


The report acknowledges that reaching 70% targets would be “challenging”, but claims that introducing the 70% goal for municipal waste alone would create 19,000 additional new jobs to a business-as-usual scenario.

And, it adds: “Many of these additional jobs would be in the reuse and remanufacturing sectors which have been shown to have considerable additional social benefits when undertaken particularly by third sector organisations.”

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