Residual waste investment damaging circular economy

A NEW STUDY out from specialist waste management consultancy Eunomia shows that residual waste treatment facilities already in the pipeline could limit local authority collected (LAC) recycling rates in England.

Foodservice Footprint Waste2-NHS-case-study-image-300x225 Residual waste investment damaging circular economy Foodservice News and Information Out of Home sector news  WasteDataFlow Residual Waste Infrastructure review LAC Eunomia Adam Baddeley











The research from the fifth issue of ‘Residual Waste Infrastructure Review’ reveals that recycling rates in 2020 could top out at 60%, as long as infrastructure remains operational and unless contracts can be renegotiated.


If the country is successful in its efforts to reduce waste arising or if more treatment capacity is commissioned, this will further limit recycling rates. Meanwhile, Scottish and Welsh authorities have invested in less infrastructure and will be able to achieve much higher recycling rates.


This is on the conservative assumption that only the 2 million tonnes per annum of residual waste treatment capacity commissioned by local authorities that has reached at least ‘preferred bidder’ status reaches financial close. The finding is in stark contrast to the potential recycling rates for LAC in the devolved administrations, which the report shows could reach 82% in Scotland and 79% in Wales.


Adam Baddeley, the report’s lead author said:

“It’s worrying that we are already in danger of limiting how far we can go with recycling in England. If we genuinely aspire to develop a circular economy, then we must shift the focus of investment away from residual waste towards options further up the hierarchy.”


The report is based on local authorities’ annual WasteDataFlow returns to Defra, and Eunomia’s Facilities Database, which holds information on all residual treatment facilities in the UK (both operating and under development) to model the balance between the two. Data is analysed on both a national and regional basis, to provide a detailed picture of where insufficient or excess capacity is anticipated.