With the UK already set to miss their 2020 European renewables targets, there is increasing pressure on those in power to start making significant changes to help control and reduce the amount we are throwing away.
The Environmental Audit Committee has released a new report which comments on the Government's lack of leadership in this area and highlights the cut-backs instead of scale-up approach being adopted. The UK has been criticised previously for its throwaway society whereby we are happy to simply discard used items rather than look for alternatives for recycling. This is particularly prevalent in the electronics sector where new ranges and latest versions are released, encouraging people to upgrade and discard their slightly older models – some of which are still in perfect working order.
The report states "A 'linear' approach - where materials are extracted, made into a product, used and discarded - wastes valuable resources and damages the environment". It is calling for a more circular economy whereby we reuse, replace and refurbish old items where necessary to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and damaging the environment.
Unfortunately, many of those contributing to this issue have been brought up in a throwaway society and therefore a significant change of behaviour is needed in order to resolve the issue and increase the amount being recycled. The Government is now spending more on waste management than on housing or planning but only a quarter of councils are offering even simple recycling services such as food waste recycling.
James Rubin, CEO of Enviro Waste, said: "20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste is disposed of across the world every year – not helped by the fact that new models are being constantly released every six months or so, convincing consumers to bin their perfectly good gadgets for the slightly upgraded versions. As we chuck out our old iPads and upgrade our smart TVs every couple of years, the amount of e-waste that we create is certainly going to grow to worrying levels."
He said Enviro Waste is working to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill, adding: "We recycle and refurbish as much as we can – we divert as much as 92% of waste away from landfill, and we strive to ensure we stay on top of the e-waste problem as it develops in the coming years."
The Environmental Audit Committee commends companies like this and feels that the Government should be offering tax breaks as a way of rewarding companies who are helping to resolve this issue.