Our economy has been built on a wasteful pattern: we make short-lived products out of valuable raw materials we dig out of the ground, and then stick them (and the resources that made them) back in the ground as landfill. This no longer makes sense.
The economics are clear. Even broken products contain materials which should be worth enough to keep them out of landfill. Because these products have been difficult to collect and recycle, we continue to lose the resources they’re made of. It turns out that getting materials out of landfill is surprisingly hard. Market signals haven’t been enough on their own. Read more
This post is by Jonny Hazell, policy assistant on our Resource Stewardship theme.
When it comes to the ways in which stuff is made, consumed, and disposed of, there’s a lot the UK could learn from Japan.
Japanese recycling rates are extraordinary: 98 per cent for metals for example and, in 2007, just five per cent of Japan’s waste ended up in a hole in the ground, compared with 48 per cent for the UK in 2008. Japan’s appliance recycling laws ensure the great majority of electrical and electronic products are recycled, compared with 30-40 per cent here. Of these appliances, 74-89 per cent of the materials they contain are recovered. Perhaps more significantly, many of these materials go back into the manufacture of the same type of products from which they were reclaimed . This is the ‘closed-loop’ holy grail of recycling essential for a truly circular economy.
So how has Japan managed it and can we do it too? Read more