Materials lost from recycling stream could cost UK £1.5bn by 2035

10th April 2019 | Recycling

Failure to properly implement EU waste and recycling regulations could cost the UK €1.18bn (£1.56bn) in the value of recyclable materials lost by 2035, a report has warned. The report, from the European Commission Directorate General for the Environment and compiled by consultancies Eunomia and COWI, says the UK is already on track to have lost £153m in materials value in the three years leading up to 2020. “Materials value” refers to money the UK misses out on had it sold the materials.

The report “The costs of not implementing EU environmental law” looks at how well the UK is implementing environmental regulations, including those for waste. It measures the gap between the regulation target and how the UK is actually performing, and has been able to put a monetary value on that gap – in this case how much has been lost through not recycling materials.

Recycling stream

The report then looks ahead to 2030-35 targets and, based on how the UK is currently performing and assuming it carries on behaving in the same way, what the implementation gap would be. Again, it has been able to assign a monetary value to this. Lead author of the report and senior environmental economist at Eunomia, Tanzir Chowdhury, said the 2030-35 implementation gaps were not “projection models”, and did not predict how the UK could act to improve implementation or introduce legislation and funding to back recycling infrastructure and reduce waste.

But he warned that many of the figures included in the report were “conservative estimates” because reliable data on some of the benefits were not always forthcoming – such as for illegal waste shipments. Unreliable data was left out of the report. A lack of information on waste crime was highlighted as an issue. The report characterised this dearth as preventing a “thorough and accurate assessment of the scale of non-implementation and associated costs” in the waste sector. The report warned, “Should greater visibility of waste crime be achieved, then more sizeable costs may become apparent.”

More information available on the website below