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A Circular Economy: The Future For Post-Brexit Britain?

Posted on: July 8, 2016

Diagram explaining circular economy

Unless you have been living on a deserted island for the past two weeks, you will be aware that the British people voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in last month’s referendum. Like many other industries, the result of that vote has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the waste and recycling sector – so what happens next?

With Article 50 not be triggered until a new Prime Minister takes office in September, it appears that in the short term there will be an element of uncertainty. However, one of subjects being discussed within the industry is the desire to make the UK a ‘circular economy’. 

“It is vital for us to make the case for the circular economy within the UK and to highlight the advantages of a strong and competitive resource efficient economy.

Once the dust settles it will be absolutely crucial for investment in our industry that the government acts quickly to set out the terms of a UK exit and what it means for the waste sector. Regardless of our membership of the EU, there is huge scope for the waste and recycling sector to do things better and for the UK to improve its resource efficiency.”  - Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA)

What Is A Circular Economy?

Many UK industries currently operate a linear economic model – large volumes of goods get made using cheap materials, they get used and are subsequently disposed of. The aim of a circular economy is to produce little or no waste, by maximising the potential of the resources available to us.

The benefits of a circular economy include:

  • Reducing the levels of waste which have to be disposed of.
  • Increasing levels of productivity.
  • Creating a competitive economy.
  • Helping to combat the challenges faced by limited resources.
  • Reducing the impact we have on the environment.

In recent years a lot of work has gone into combating waste and driving up levels of recycling. While at this stage it is unclear what the future will hold for us outside of the European Union, it is important that these improvements are not lost.